Shocking refusal of citizenship to former Lib Dem mayor

Lib Dem Inga Lockington, the former mayor of Ipswich, has been refused citizenship. It is covered extensively here.

Inga came to the UK in 1979 when she married her British husband. That resonates with me as I moved to the UK twenty-four years ago when I married my British husband. Inga was given indefinite leave to remain at the time, and has been a resident ever since.

Not only has Inga lived in this country, but she has contributed greatly to community life. She has been a councillor for 19 years, and as Suffolk County Councillor has helped many local residents and is well-respected in her community. She was Mayor of Ipswich in 2007.

Inga has said she doesn’t want special treatment, she wants a system where everyone is treated equally.

I just want to be treated fairly because I want everybody to be treated the same way.

This follows on a conversation I had with another councillor recently on the struggles he has had in getting papers for his wife to be granted citizenship. He spoke of the thousands of pounds it cost for her and her two children to come here with leave to remain; then the thousands of pounds it cost for permanent residency papers; and now the thousands of pounds to apply for British citizenship.

There are countless stories up and down the country of spouses trying to have a family life with their non-British born partners. They are striving to follow the rules, but having to jump through several hoops and pay thousands of pounds for the privilege. We are not very welcoming as a country and should be ashamed.

I took the decision after my second daughter was born to take British citizenship, and I am ever so glad I did. I had a feeling things might get more difficult for those of us who married into this country, and they have.

* Kirsten Johnson is the PPC for North Devon and Day Editor of Lib Dem Voice.

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18 Comments

  • The way that the Home Office works in these cases is often quite appalling. But do not get taken in by those who might think this regime only came in with the Tories. Underpinning all this furore is a complete lack of common sense underpinning how the officials address each individual. That is if you take the charitable view.

  • It is time for the Lib Dems in Parliament to take the lead and demand a public inquiry into the Home Office and its immigration policies and practices. This is a department of government that has a consistently bad record in applying policies in a fair, sensible and humane way. In a recent article in the i Newspaper https://inews.co.uk/opinion/sajid-javid-home-secretary-amber-rudd-theresa-may/ , Yasmin Alibhai Brown was scathing in her criticism of the Department and its ministers and could only find good things to say about four Home Secretaries in the last 50 years: Roy Jenkins (of course), Willie Whitelaw, Ken Clarke and Douglas Hurd. Labour Home Secretaries have been just as bad as Tories – Blunkett arguably the worst.
    The Law Society recently highlighted that the Home Office loses over 50% of Immigration Appeals and suggested, as many others have done recently, that there may be institutional racism or at least xenophobia in that Department. It is time for a thorough and independent Inquiry and this outrageous decision against one of our own should spur us to demand it.

  • Yep Tony. Don’t be fooled these rules only came in with the Tories, the Lib Dems were in power too at the time, not to say they could have done that much about it but how many Lib Dem MPs condemned the Tories at the time?

  • Richard Underhill 24th May '18 - 2:24pm

    Did the nationality department give reasons for their decision?
    They are supposed to check criminal records (always in theory, not always in practice if under pressure to reduce the length of queues). The quality of the database might be relevant to an undeserved refusal.

  • Nonconformistradical 24th May '18 - 2:35pm

    “The Law Society recently highlighted that the Home Office loses over 50% of Immigration Appeals.”
    And this https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/home-office-windrush-immigration-cases-5000-scandal-a8367021.html claims any of the Windrush people who is rejected won’t have right of appeal.

  • Little Jackie Paper 24th May '18 - 3:37pm

    I would make three observations.

    1 – One can argue about whether it should be the role of Home Office caseworkers to provide de facto immigration advice to applicants. I can definitely see why they would be reluctant, but equally it does lead to frustrations in cases like this. Private sector advice is, to say the least, hit and miss. I have been (informally) helping people with immigration applications for 16 years now and I have long-thought that what we need is an ‘immigration CAB.’ Something that can provides good advice (relatively) cheap on what is a very complex system. Mixing case work and advice is a dangerous game, even if the HO’s YES/NO approach is far from ideal.

    2 – My understanding is that most other EU countries do insist that those EU people applying for citizenship have been through national registration processes in full (albeit other EU countries do have far more formal processes than the UK). I don’t know Denmark, but a quick look at the internet suggests they do have a similar requirement – https://www.justlanded.com/english/Denmark/Denmark-Guide/Visas-Permits/Citizenship. What you think about those rules and whether you think that her public service should negate them is also another matter. But I’m not sure that I’m seeing anything shocking or exceptional here. Indeed that Guardian article says, ‘She said she took for granted that she would be granted citizenship.’ That to me sounds like a rather dangerous assumption was made here. I’d be interested to know if she was given advice on her application.

    3 – Has she actually been, ‘refused,’ citizenship as the headline says or has she just been told to get the permanent residency then apply for citizenship i.e the same as everyone else? I don’t think I understand what the outcome is here.

  • Brynwell
    And don’t forget the restrictions that Labour placed on Thai women marrying British men in the UK.

  • I am amazed and disgusted with the way “our” home office behaves towards people who have settled in Britain for many, many years and made valuable contributions to our society in so many ways. It is just not decent. We all have people in our families, or have acquaintances and friends who have been, or could be impacted by these harsh, insensitive and inappropriate refusals of “rights to remain”. The British people are agreed that what is happening is not right and must be stopped forthwith. We don’t want reviews and “lessons will be learned” we need comprehensive action to end injustice now.

  • Paul D P
    I am amazed and disgusted by the fact that many families are split because of the refusal to give foreign spouses visas.

  • Yep Brynwell, but the Home Office was the same under Labour as well.

  • Rita Giannini 25th May '18 - 11:21am

    Permanent Residency registration was not a requirement for EU citizens, so why should we have done it? Other countries require EU citizens to register, so obviously they do it. Some countries (Italy is one of them) require their citizens who move abroad to register with the Italian Consulate, so I am in the absurd situation that the Italian State knows I am a resident in UK and have been for over 30 years, but the UK state is actually not sure I am a permanent resident, even if I pay taxes, I am entitled to a pension, I have two children born in UK, I have been a town Councillor, etc…..what sort of hoops do they want us to go through?

  • David Evans 25th May ’18 – 11:14am…………………….Yep Brynwell, but the Home Office was the same under Labour as well……………………

    Not quite!
    The ‘Immigration Act 2014’ (that made the Windrush scandal possible) was a dirty deed done on our watch..
    BTW…Jeremy Corbyn was one of only 6 Labour MPs, in Ed Miliband’s ‘moderate’ Labour party, who voted against the Bill. As for us? only 3 voted against .

  • @expats

    I think it difficult to say that the Immigration Act 2014 should have had anything to do with the Windrush scandal – although the Guardian did report a SPECIFIC clause was removed that protected them from deportation but they do say that the Windrush generation still remained protected which does seem to be the case.

    https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/apr/16/immigration-law-key-clause-protecting-windrush-immigrants-removed-in-2014

    The Guardian reports: “The Home Office said the clause was not included in the 2014 Immigration Act because adequate protections were already in place for people who were initially granted temporary rights to remain in the UK and have stayed for decades.”

    This does seem to be backed up by guidance on the Home Office which says you qualify for right of abode – i.e. are not subject to any immigration restriction or subject to possible deportation if “you were a citizen of the UK and Colonies who, at any time before 1 January 1983, had been ordinarily resident in the UK for a continuous period of 5 years or more…”

    That is all the Windrush generation. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/638659/Guide_ROA_v1_17.08.17.pdf or via https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/application-for-certificate-showing-right-of-abode

  • Michael 1 25th May ’18 – 1:06pm, @expats, I think it difficult to say that the Immigration Act 2014 should have had anything to do with the Windrush scandal………………..

    The main problem, as was pointed out at the time, was the regulation that landlords, employers, NHS, etc. had to have proof that those applying had their entitlement to housing, jobs, health by governed by proof of residence. The onus was on the applicant (contrary to the ‘innocent until proven guilty’ tradition) to prove innocence.

    I’m unsure where the “4 documents for every year of residence” came from but I, as someone born here, couldn’t do it*
    * As a history project I tried to get my school records from 1949-55 ( convent school closed around 1958; no records remain)

  • @expats

    It was illegal for employers (with the possibility of a civil fine on them) to employ someone not entitled to work here BEFORE the 2014 act.

    Free NHS care is dependent on being “ordinarily resident” here – again BEFORE the 2014 act.

    The requirement for landlords to check that their (new) tenants are not here illegally is a new one.

    Clearly things were not handled well and is remarked in the comments and more generally – immigration decisions are handled badly by home office officials.

    It was a Labour Home Secretary that remarked that it was not fit for purpose and clearly that has continued.

    Clearly also there was a problem in that it wasn’t realised that many of the Windrush generation were going about their everyday lives without a passport and without ever getting a “certificate of abode” and there is no reason why they should.

    In general you don’t have to provide documentation for every year. The form to get a certificate for right of abode states: “Evidence of citizenship of the UK and
    Colonies, e.g. a passport or certificate of naturalisation or registration; and
    • Evidence of settlement and 5 years’ ordinary residence in the UK before 1983, e.g.
    passport, P60s, details of National Insurance contributions, DSS claims, employers’ letters.”

    Clearly Home Office officials and indeed employers and NHS staff etc. have been acting more officiously recently and this has not been good but mainly this has been due to harsher interpretation/climate rather than rule changes from 2014. And also the Windrush generation did not have passports etc. which was the beginning of the problems.

    The Guardian says that there were problems stemming from the destruction of landing cards in 2010 and dating from 2013 – before the 2014 act and both of which Lib Dems bear some responsibility for because we were in power with the Tories then but this was implementation by a department with a Conservative home secretary and immigration minister

    https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/apr/17/home-office-destroyed-windrush-landing-cards-says-ex-staffer

    https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/may/08/home-office-told-of-windrush-errors-five-years-ago-experts-say

  • Richard Underhill 26th May '18 - 12:01pm

    Nonconformistradical 24th May ’18 – 2:35pm: The number of appeals is heavily biased towards asylum because every refusal carries a refusal since the 1993 Act. The circumstances in the country of origin can change between the decision and the appeal hearing. A military coup or a democratic election can make a big difference, making the reason for refusal of historic interest only. Other appeals do not have this timing factor, so an appeal would need to assert that the Home Office has made a wrong decision.

  • Richard Underhill 26th May '18 - 12:04pm

    Sorry Typo.
    Every refusal carries an APPEAL since the 1993 Act.

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