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Client wins appeal against removal of UK citizenship (19 March 2021)

Date: 19/03/2021
Duncan Lewis, Main Solicitors, Client wins appeal against removal of UK citizenship

This case involved an appeal to the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) against a decision to deprive the Appellant of his British Citizenship on grounds of national security. C7 was deprived of his citizenship while he was living abroad.

C7 raised the preliminary issue that the decision had rendered C7 stateless as he had no other nationality, and as such the decision was unlawful under section 40(4) of the British Nationality Act 1981. The position of Secretary of State for the Home Department (SSHD) was that C7 was a dual British-Bangladeshi on account of his parent’s Bangladeshi citizenship. The appeal on this preliminary issue of statelessness was heard alongside the appeals of two other British citizens of Bangladeshi heritage who had also been deprived of their citizenship on grounds of national security.

Both parties relied on expert evidence about Bangladeshi citizenship law. The SSHD also relied on a Note Verbale the British High Commission in Dhaka had obtained from the Bangladeshi authorities about the government’s interpretation of the law. The SSHD also sought to rely on CLOSED material that neither expert had seen.

SIAC allowed all three appeals making the following findings in relation to C7 in accordance with Bangladeshi citizenship law:

  • (i)C7 was a dual British-Bangladeshi citizen at birth

  • (ii)C7 had until his 21st birthday to either renounce his British citizenship or apply to retain his dual citizen status (Section 14 (1)-(1A) of the Bangladeshi Citizenship Act 1951)

  • (iii)As C7 failed to do either of these things, his Bangladeshi citizenship lapsed on his turning 21

  • (iv)This was consistent with the previous findings of the Commission in G3 (2018), E3 & N3 (2019) and Shamima Begum (2020). The SSHD had not demonstrated any good reason to depart from those findings. In any event, SIAC considered the matter for itself and came to the same conclusion

  • (v)A presidential instruction issued in 2008 that purported to allow dual citizens to retain their citizenship beyond the age of 21 only applies to those Bangladeshi citizens who had naturalised as British citizens. As C7 was born British, it does not apply to him. In any event, the Instruction does not operate retrospectively (SRO 69/2008)

  • (vi)The note verbale was not determinative of how a Bangladeshi court would interpret the law and was only one factor in favour of the SSHD’s position to which limited weight could be given.

Solicitor for C7, Fahad Ansari said:

“The Secretary of State has now instructed no less than five different Bangladeshi nationality law experts over the course of four years in these appeals, all of whom have either disagreed with her or whose evidence has been rejected by the Commission.

“In light of the Commission once again ruling that the Secretary of State’s actions in depriving individuals like C7 of their citizenship is unlawful as it renders them stateless, we invite Ms Patel to now review all the deprivation decisions affected by this judgment with a view to withdrawing those involving a similar factual matrix.”

C7 was represented by Fahad Ansari, a consultant solicitor at Duncan Lewis Solicitors. Instructed counsel were Hugh Southey QC of Matrix and Alasdair Mackenzie of Doughty Street Chambers.

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