A former English teacher who was barred for 25 years from returning to his home in Britain after his passport was mistakenly seized has been ruled ineligible for British citizenship due to his length of absence from the UK.
Ken Morgan, 70, described the decision as “ridiculous of a catch-22”, and said the only reason he had been absent for such a long time was because he was banned from traveling to the UK by British officials. He has asked for a review.
Morgan, at the age of 10, moved from Jamaica to the UK in 1960, before Jamaican independence, traveling on a British passport. He attended school in London and lived and worked in the UK for more than 30 years until 1994 when he traveled to a relative’s funeral in Jamaica. On his way back to London he was stopped at registration and his passport was seized.
He could not persuade officials in the British High Commission that they had made a mistake, and he remained stuck in Jamaica for a quarter of a century until the Windrush scandal broke, when British diplomats called him out of the blue to temporarily offer him a visa to allow him travel back to the UK. He applied for British citizenship in 2018, during his first home visit.
His application was rejected, after a delay of nearly two years, on the grounds that he had been out of the country on a date five years before he made the application (at a time when he was barred from being in the UK because of the decision to confiscated his passport), and that he spent more than 450 days out of the country during the application period (a period when he was not allowed to be in the UK).
“I am sorry to tell you that you do not meet the requirements for citizenship and that you are not entitled to the right to remain in the United Kingdom,” the decision letter states.
Morgan said he was horrified by the decision. “How can you prevent someone from returning, then reject their application and tell them: you were not in the country and therefore you are not eligible? Hello? Hello? Why wasn’t I in the country? It doesn’t make any sense, ”said Morgan, by telephone from Jamaica. He said he had repeatedly become skeptical of the Home Office’s commitments to put right the wrongs experienced by the Windrush generation. “The promised culture change has not happened. When we take the spotlight away from the Home Office, they revert back to their old ways. “
After being banned from returning to the UK, Morgan was orphaned on the streets of Kingston for a while, before successfully starting a small business, and retraining as a graphic designer. He finished working for the University of the West Indies, and notes that he “survived the odd and prosperous”. However, he is keen to secure his British citizenship.
Morgan’s lawyer, Irène Nembhard of Birnberg Peirce, said the home secretary had the right to exercise discretion in exceptional circumstances. “There is no acknowledgment that the only reason Mr Morgan failed to meet the requirements imposed was because of the unlawful act of the British officer at the High Commission in Jamaica, seizing his valid British passport,” it states in the letter requires a review.
“It is very worrying that such a fundamental error could be made by a task force set up just to remedy the wrongs done to Windrushers. Ken and his lawyers can no longer have any confidence in statements by a succession of home secretaries that they are committed to providing justice to those so seriously injured by decades of hostile policies implemented by the Home Office, ” he said.
A Home Office spokesman said: “An independent review, requested last month into Mr Morgan’s case, is continuing. Each citizenship application is considered on its own merits in accordance with the requirements set out in nationality legislation. ”