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Home Office has revoked passport of UK citizen of two decades leaving him stranded in Brussels

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Mr Lala is currently sleeping rough in Brussels after being blocked from entering the UK (image: The Independent)

Fatush Lala, 33, who was born in Serbia has lived in Britain since the age of 14, was told by border officials as he tried to board a flight home from Brussels airport that he no longer had the right to do so, having had his passport revoked by the Home Office with no warning rendering him stateless and forced to sleep on the streets of Belgium.

He says he has been pushed “from pillar to post” as he tries to rectify the situation. The Home Office has yet to respond to a letter sent a week ago by his local MP asking for clarification, if not immediate rectification of the situation.

Mr. Lala said that when he went to the UK embassy in Belgium to seek help, he was informed that his British passport was no longer valid and therefore confiscated, leaving him stateless

Recalling the moment he was stripped of his passport, Mr. Lala told The Independent: “It felt like a nightmare. It hasn’t sunk in properly. I still don’t believe it has happened.

“I’m literally just moving around from place to place. It’s cold. I’ve tried to find warm places in train stations and cafes. There's nothing else I can do. I’ve telephoned everybody and they’re just passing me from pillar to post. I’m just a bit helpless. I don’t know where else I can turn.”

Returning on January 20 from a holiday in Bulgaria, where his wife comes from, he was told he could not board the flight. His wife, who was not subject to any travel restrictions, remained with him in Brussels until 31 January, when she returned to the UK Due to Brexit fears and uncertainty.

It has since come out that the Home Office had sent a letter on December 5 informing Mr. Lala that his passport was being revoke, which never reached him since it had been set to the wrong address.

The letter states that his UK passport “should not have been issued”, due to his having become naturalised with an identity that “conflicts [his] true identity”. His naturalization documentation states that he said he was born in 1986 and born in Serbia, but the Home Office believes he was born in 1985 in Albania.

The Home Office provides no explanation as to how this information was obtained but states quite clearly that he must not use the document for travel.

Mr. Lala first arrived in the UK as a minor after being split from his family during the Serbian conflict. He went into foster care and attended school, college and university in the country, before being granted British citizenship in his early twenties.

“I don’t have a life anywhere else. Where you live is where you build your close ties and relations. A good 20 years of my life I’ve spent there and I’ve had no trouble or anything like that,” Mr Lala said

“I don’t have anything or anybody in Serbia. I don’t think it’s safe for me to be there. That’s why I left. No child of 14 years old would want to leave. It doesn’t happen unless you’re forced to go.”

He added: “It’s really unfair the way I’ve been issued this revocation and not followed steps to ensure that I got it. I could have at least had some warning at the airport before leaving to say I might face some trouble coming back. Any reasonable person would expect that.

“There are no words for it. It’s a huge shock, especially coming from a great country like England. It doesn’t seem real.”

According to the Home office website:

“The first duty of the government is to keep citizens safe and the country secure. The Home Office has been at the front line of this endeavour since 1782. As such, the Home Office plays a fundamental role in the security and economic prosperity of the United Kingdom.”

David Lamy, MP

David Lamy, Labour MP for Tottenham, said: “Mr. Lala deserves the right to make a legal defence of his British citizenship which was taken away from him with no warning. It is illegal for any country to make its citizens stateless.

“It is grossly inhumane and cruel to do this to someone who arrived in the UK at just 14 years old and has called the UK home for the past twenty years.”

A Home Office spokesperson said the department does not comment on individual cases.

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