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Passport row continues

THE British Consular Services has stuck to its guns, maintaining that passports issued to a Zimbabwean family in 2007 had been given in error.


Barbara Nicholas last week alleged that the British Embassy in Pretoria was refusing to issue passports to her two children, rendering them stateless.

But Andrew Brodie, an official at Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) said the passports had been issued in error and the Nicholas family had been advised on procedure.

“The passports in this case were issued as a result of an error on the part of the examiner who dealt with the application,” he said in a written response. “However, where IPS [Identity and Passport Services] identifies a passport issued in error, that passport would be withdrawn. The issue of [the] passport does not grant citizenship where there [is] no entitlement.”

The passports were issued in 2007 and expired in February last year.
Brodie apologised for the error and inconveniences caused to the family, but he said they had been advised to contact United Kingdom Border Agency in order to register the children to become British citizens.

Nicholas, who was born in Zimbabwe but lived in Britain for five years, charged that the British Embassy was denying her children passports, rendering them stateless.

They could not get Zimbabwean travel documents, unless they renounced British citizenship.

She said she had contacted the UK Border Agency and had been assured that no passports were ever given in error.

Nicholas claimed that her children had lived in Britain for more than three continuous years and that qualified them to receive British travel documents.

She says she returned to Zimbabwe to look after her in-laws who had been kicked off the farm they were working on.

Nicholas says her in-laws also lost their farm during the fast-track land reform programme in 2000.

Nicholas claimed she had not received responses to the queries she had sent to the British Embassy or Home Office.

Brodie reiterated that since Nicholas was a citizen by descent, citizenship could not be inherited by children born outside the UK.
Both Nicholas and her husband are citizens by descent.

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