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Secret Court Overturns Home Office Decisions To Deprive Two Men of their British Citizenship (20 November 2018)

Date: 20/11/2018
Duncan Lewis, Main Solicitors, Secret Court Overturns Home Office Decisions To Deprive Two Men of their British Citizenship

Duncan Lewis Solicitors have successfully appealed the decisions of the Home Office to deprive two men of their British citizenship. As the appeals involved matters of national security, they were heard by the secretive court, the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC). The Commission, chaired by Mr Justice Jay, allowed the appeals of the two men, anonymised as E3 and N3, on the basis that the deprivation orders had rendered them stateless.

The full judgment in E3 and N3 v SSHD SC/138/2017 and SC/146/2017 can be read at http://siac.decisions.tribunals.gov.uk/Documents/outcomes/documents/DOC000.pdf

Both E3 and N3 are British by birth and have Bangladeshi heritage. In June 2017, E3 was deprived of his citizenship after visiting Bangladesh to be present at the birth of his daughter. In October 2017, N3 was deprived of his citizenship after leaving the UK to go to Turkey for business for a few weeks. Both men were deprived of their citizenship on national security grounds days before they were due to return to the UK. They suddenly found themselves stranded in foreign countries without any source of income or support.

The Commission heard expert evidence from both sides and ultimately found that Bangladeshi citizenship law required both men to have formally applied to retain their Bangladeshi citizenship upon reaching the age of 21, and by failing to do so, they had allowed their citizenship to lapse. Since they did not possess Bangladeshi citizenship on the date of the British citizenship deprivation orders, the effect was to render them stateless. As such, the decisions were unlawful and both appeals were allowed.

The implications of the judgment are significant:

  1. The UK can no longer deprive UK nationals, who are British by birth but of Bangladeshi origin, of their citizenship where they are over the age of 21 and where they have never applied to retain their Bangladeshi citizenship. To do so would render them stateless and would be unlawful.

  2. Citizens who fall within this category who have already had their citizenship revoked can appeal the decisions or reopen their cases on the basis that they have been rendered stateless.

Solicitor for the Appellants, Fahad Ansari, commented:

“While we welcome the decision of the Commission, it is of deep concern that there appears to be an ongoing practice of the Secretary of State to deliberately wait until individuals leave the UK before depriving them of their citizenship.

“If the Secretary of State had evidence that my clients were involved in criminal activity, he should have passed that information to the police and the Crown Prosecution Service to put them on trial before they left the UK. Instead, he deprived them of their citizenship on national security grounds during their absence.

“The Secretary of State’s practice of depriving individuals of their citizenship while they are abroad without any form of due process is nothing less than a return to the medieval penalties of banishment and exile.”

Legal Team

E3 and N3 were represented by Fahad Ansari of Duncan Lewis. Hugh Southey QC of Matrix Chambers and Alasdair Mackenzie of Doughty Street Chambers were instructed as counsel.

The Commission commented that the conduct of the legal team had “been in the very best tradition of the legal profession.”

For further information or comment, please contact Fahad Ansari on 020 7923 4020 or email fahada@duncanlewis.com.

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