Hundreds of people had their British citizenship removed by the Home Office over the past 15 years, new research has revealed.
According to lawyers from Free Movement, a website that informs people of immigration law, 464 people have had their citizenship taken away since the law was relaxed in 2006.
In the light of the revelations, editor CJ McKinney has urged the government to start publishing the total number of people who are being deprived of citizenship, as a “bare minimum of transparency”.
“This is an extremely serious punishment that amounts to being banished from the UK in many cases,” McKinney said.
Stark increase in cases over recent years
So far, 289 people have been deprived on fraud grounds, and 175 because of reasons based on national security, information which McKinney had to obtain from historic freedom of information requests and “obscure statistical publications”.
According to The Guardian, the power of stripping British citizenship dates back to 1914 but in recent years the rules around it have been loosened, contributing to a stark increase in cases.
In one case, a 40-year-old man who was born in England to Bangladeshi parents had his citizenship removed in 2017, when he flew to Bangladesh.
The reason he was given was that he was an “Islamist extremist who had previously sought to travel abroad to participate in terrorism-related activity”, according to The Observer, but he was never arrested, questioned or provided with evidence for these claims.
The Home Office later reinstated his citizenship after accepting the man was left stateless.
‘It’s wrong in principle to deprive people of citizenship’
But his lawyer, Fahad Ansary of Duncan solicitors, said the injustice is worsened when it is done based on secret evidence.
He added: “Depriving people of their citizenship means stripping away their identity, their sense of belonging and their ability to seek protection. As such, it is wrong in principle.
“Rather than further strengthening the home secretary’s powers by removing the requirement to give notice, the government should be scrapping the deprivation power altogether.”
The lawyer’s call comes as thousands of people have signed a petition to stop the Home Secretary from having stronger powers on British citizenship removal.
Petition to stop Priti Patel’s new powers
The petition, which racked up almost 19,000 signatures, argues Priti Patel’s new powers go against the fact that citizenship “must be a right, not a privilege”.
The new Bill is understood to scrap the need to give notice when removing British citizenship and raises serious questions about the ability to appeal such government decisions.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “The Home Office is committed to publishing its transparency report into the use of disruptive powers and will do so in due course.
“Removing British citizenship has been possible for over a century, and is used against those who have acquired citizenship by fraud, and against the most dangerous people, such as terrorists, extremists and serious organised criminals.”