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Revoking Kurd’s British passport who changed identity was ‘procedurally unfair’

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Revoking the British passport of an Iraqi Kurd living in Belfast who changed identity was procedurally unfair, the High Court ruled today.

A judge quashed the decision and ordered Home Office officials to examine claims the man acted to protect his family during the reign of Saddam Hussein.

Mr Justice Colton said: "The decision maker should ensure that he/she fully engages with the applicant's explanation and adopts a procedure by which that explanation can be considered."

In 2002 the man, referred to as TS, claimed asylum in the UK under a pseudonym due to safety concerns.

He stated that he concealed his true identity because his family back in Iraq would be in danger if it emerged that he had fled the region.

Six years later he was granted British citizenship and issued with a passport in the assumed name.

In October 2015 he switched back by deed poll to what he says is his real identity.

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A second British passport was then issued to him in the name TS.

An investigation into potential identity fraud was launched in February 2020, after he had applied for a British passport for his daughter.

But a letter from a Home Office official about attending for an interview under caution was not provided to his solicitor.

TS subsequently filed a note explaining that he had not used his real name when seeking asylum due to the potential consequences for his family.

Following the fall of the Ba'athist regime in 2003 and the execution of Saddam three years later, those fears were eased.

"I consider that the issue of reprisals to my family and me was no longer a concern, and applied to change my name back to the original," he stated.

However, in December 2020 TS's passport was revoked on the basis that his claim to British citizenship was not correctly obtained.

He sought a judicial review of the decision, arguing that it was unlawful on a number of grounds.

Lawyers for the Home Office countered that his challenge should be dismissed due to a lack of candour.

Ruling on the case, Mr Justice Colton acknowledged the Secretary of State's wide discretion under Royal Prerogative powers to issue or withdraw a British passport.

But he identified an apparent failure to engage with or consider the reasons provided in TS's note.

"There is no reference at all in the decision to the explanation which was specifically sought," he pointed out.

The judge confirmed: "That procedural unfairness is sufficient to vitiate the decision of 3 December 2020.

"Accordingly, the court quashes the decision of December 3, 2020 and directs that the respondent make a fresh decision by a different decision maker."


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