UK-born, but Iona can't have a passport

By Sarah ChambersA COUPLE have been caught in a red tape nightmare after applying for a British passport for their newborn baby daughter.Tony Murland, a British citizen, and Dutch-born Maidie Jongeneel, from Easton, near Wickham Market, were left stunned when their application for a passport for Iona, aged three months, hit a stumbling block because they were unmarried.

By Sarah Chambers

A COUPLE have been caught in a red tape nightmare after applying for a British passport for their newborn baby daughter.

Tony Murland, a British citizen, and Dutch-born Maidie Jongeneel, from Easton, near Wickham Market, were left stunned when their application for a passport for Iona, aged three months, hit a stumbling block because they were unmarried.

The disappointed couple, who plan to marry, have had to cancel their proposed family holiday in Paris this week because of the problem.


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Despite the fact Iona was born in Britain, her father is British and her mother, Ms Jongeneel, aged 37, has lived here since the aged of nine, they have so far been unable to obtain a British passport for their daughter.

In a letter to Ms Jongeneel, the UK Passport Service said as she has not been married to Iona's father, his British citizenship “has no effect” upon her daughter's nationality.

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It added Iona's claim to British citizenship depended solely on Ms Jongeneel's claim to have been settled in the UK at the time of her birth.

The letter asked her to produce documentation to show she had indefinite leave to remain in the UK when Iona had been born.

Ms Jongeneel claimed the UK Passport Service would not accept her wage slips or tax records as proof of her residence in the country and that had made the task of providing the proof they wanted more difficult.

“I was very shocked that she was not allowed to be British. I had never heard of anything like that,” she said.

Mr Murland described the situation as “discriminatory” and “totally unfair”.

“We applied to the Passport Office for a passport for my daughter in order for us to go on holiday and were informed that she is not eligible as she is illegitimate,” he said.

“Apparently there was a change in the law pertaining to cases like this in October 2002. You can imagine my outrage, and indeed I question whether it is legal or politically correct to make judgments in this day and age regarding children born to couples who are not married.”

Mr Murland, an antiques dealer, added: “As a British citizen, I am appalled at the treatment we have received and find it astonishing that my daughter is being refused a British passport.

“I feel even more aggrieved bearing in mind how pathetically simple it is for so called asylum seekers to arrive in this country, be given instant rights to live here, somewhere to live, and indeed, money to spend.

“I would be grateful if it could be explained to me how this amazing situation should be allowed to continue.

“It is just more evidence why decent hard-worked British people are better off living elsewhere and I am now in the unenviable position of telling my elderly father, who flew Spitfires with pride in World War II, that his grand-daughter is not to be given a British passport.”

The couple have now written to their MP, Sir Michael Lord, about their difficulties.

A spokeswoman for the Home Office said although she could not comment on individual cases, policy dictated anyone born after January 1, 1983 would not automatically be classed as British just because they were born in Britain.

She added if the parents were to marry, it would legitimise the child in the eyes of UK immigration law and an application could then be made to the Home Office for nationality/citizenship and later, if valid and applicable, for a passport.

sarah.chambers@eadt.co.uk

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