• Thursday, May 30, 2024

News

EXCLUSIVE: “I’ve been let down by my country”

Asian man stranded in Cyprus unable to get home with his new born

Raj Gill (right) with his newborn baby in Cyprus

By: BARNIE CHOUDHURY

An “incompetent” UK Passport Office is letting down Britons stranded in Cyprus, a south Asian father of a new born surrogate baby has told Eastern Eye.

Raj Gill, 49, from Essex, has told his MP he is being “held hostage” in Cyprus because the government has spent weeks sitting on a decision to issue a passport for his son.

Documents seen by Eastern Eye shows how Gill, a single father, went to Cyprus to witness the birth of his son, but he must leave the country by a week Friday (26).

Raj Gill has spent more than £80,000 so far

He applied for a passport in February, but the Passport Office is sitting on its decision and has done nothing for the past 12 weeks.

“I’m appalled because every time I’ve phoned them throughout most of March and April, I’ve been told your examiner has got your application and is having standard checks being carried out,” he said.

“I asked them, can somebody please call me, somebody senior because I’m worried that by now something should have been happened.

“This lady phoned up on Friday to tell me that it’s actually been in a virtual queue, and no one’s looked at it since the 12th of February.”

Gill estimated that with surrogate costs and hotel bills he has spent more than £80,000 so far.

Possible arrest

His visa runs out on the 26 April, and if he does not leave, Gill said he could be arrested, imprisoned, or fined by the Cypriot government.

He told Eastern Eye that the British High Commission to Nicosia advised him to apply for an emergency travel document.

But it was refused because Cypriot officials did not think this his case was an emergency.

In his letter to his MP, Conservative Dame Jackie Doyle-Price, answerable to her Thurrock constituents, Gill wrote, “We need to leave Cyprus with my son by 26th April as there is no one else here to care for him.

“As we were expecting to be in Cyprus for a maximum of 90 days, both my elderly mother and myself are also about to run out of medication for pre-existing health issues.

“My health has been particularly poor during the last few weeks due to the stress of all of this.

“I would be very grateful if you could please investigate my child’s passport application and liaise with HMPO for us to hopefully all leave Cyprus by 26th April 2024.

“It does really feel as we are being held hostage here.”

Shocking treatment

Gill has another son born through surrogacy after using an agency in Cyprus.

He told Eastern Eye that because of delays then, he learnt lessons and was better prepared.

He said he was told that it would take four weeks, give or take a fortnight, for the Passport Office to issue travelling documents for the latest addition to his family.

Gill said that he knew of six other British families facing the same problems.

“I was born and bred in Essex, I’m still living there, and I’m just shocked that we are being treated like this,” the primary school teacher continued.

“I feel something is happening here, I can’t really just say it’s race purely because I’m the only Asian guy so far that I’m aware of.

“But it could be, I have contacted them [Passport Office] each time and all they keep saying is just wait and wait.

“How long I’m supposed to be waiting for – they haven’t told me anything.”

After requesting that Eastern Eye sends specific details about this case, a Home Office spokesperson said, “We do not comment on individual passport applications.”

Earlier today, after we wrote an email to Dame Jackie, The MP’s office contacted the father-of-two.

“Please be advised that this office has made an urgent enquiry with the Home Office regarding your son’s application,” said a staffer.

“Once Dame Jackie has received a response to the enquiry, we will update you.”

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