Ex-High Commissioner’s baby denied UK passport because he is not ‘British enough’

Arthur Snell, a former High Commissioner, said that his baby was denied a UK passport in 2011. Snell went further to say that the Home Office defaults to a refusal of citizenship whenever it can, in order to make it difficult for applicants.

Snell’s baby was born abroad, and initially denied a British passport. Snell was left feeling powerless and nervous even in his ‘privileged position’ of High Commissioner. He held the position as High Commissioner to Trinidad and Tobago for four years.

Having since left the Foreign Office, Snell tweeted that he had received notification saying the passport had been refused because the baby ‘was not British enough’. You simply cannot be more British than the High Commissioner, says Snell.

Snell was forced to re-apply for the passport while the baby was in effect stateless because he was ineligible for Trinidadian citizenship.

When talking to the Guardian, Snell, who is now a foreign policy consultant, stated that he wanted to stress that the inconvenience he had gone through was nothing in comparison with the anguish suffered by the Windrush generation, but it did serve to illustrate that the Home Office denies or defaults to refusal whenever possible.

The process for proving that you have a right to be British is not straight-forward and is designed to make it as difficult as possible for applicants. The policy requires that applicants prove, in the face of sceptical and a negative institution, that they have this right. Applicants can expect the Home Office to issue a negative reply wherever possible.

Because of his position, Snell was relatively well resourced, and able to re-apply with the documentation required. Even then, the process took several months and cost a lot of money.

Snell stated that there are many applicants who do not have those resources or finances which allow them to keep fighting and pressing their claims. This is how injustices of this type happen.

Anyone could have looked at Snell’s case, and in about 30 seconds would have concluded what needed to be done. Instead, the process is a computer programme, which simply kicked him out and sent him to the back of the queue. In cases like this, where there is such a system, it always falls hardest on applicants with fewer connections and fewer finances.

Many people, says Snell, will just be forced to give up. While he says that he had not suffered in any significant way, there are hundreds of families that have been broken up because of this.

Snell ended by saying that the Prime Minister should accept that a large number of people have been wronged, and a blanket change needed to be made.

For people like Snell’s son, who were born overseas, it is no longer possible to get British citizenship and a passport at an embassy. The application must be made directly to the Home Office. It is expensive and takes a long time.

Snell called for UK nationality rules to be simplified for those people who were born overseas, as well as for those who are resident in the UK, to get their rightful UK citizenship.


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