Over 450 people stripped of British citizenship in last 15 years, study reveals Shamima Begum fled to war-torn Syria at the age of 15 in 2015. (File photo)
A study has revealed that at least 464 people had lost their British citizenship, including one man who was stateless for almost five years, in the last 15 years, the Guardian reported.
Research by the Free Movement website has found that hundreds of people have had their citizenship removed since the law permitting this practice was relaxed 15 years ago.
The government does not publish the total number of people it strips of British citizenship.
“This is an extremely serious punishment that amounts to being banished from the UK in many cases. Saying how often existing citizenship deprivation powers are used is the bare minimum of transparency that parliament and the public should expect,” CJ McKinney, of Free Movement, was quoted as saying by the Guardian.
McKinney found that since 2006, 175 people have been deprived of their citizenship on national security grounds, and 289 because of fraud. Prior to 2006, the power had not been used since 1973.
The well-known case is that of Shamima Begum. She was deprived of her citizenship after leaving the UK as a 15-year-old schoolgirl to join Daesh. Begum lost her battle to have it restored in February 2021.
McKinney said he compiled the information from historic freedom of information requests and “obscure statistical publications”.
According to the study, between 2006 and 2010 there were nine cases. But by 2017 numbers had peaked at 148 people who had their citizenship removed that year. In 2018 there were 73 cases, in 2019 82 cases, and in 2020 42 cases.
Recently, a 40-year-old man, referred to only as E3, was stripped of his British citizenship in 2017. He was born in London to parents of Bangladeshi heritage but had his citizenship removed when he flew to Bangladesh.
Later, his citizenship was reinstated after the Home Office accepted he is stateless as a result of having his British citizenship taken away from him.
The Guardian said that the case highlights the human cost of this power that the Home Office hopes to further strengthen in its controversial nationality and borders bill, which will no longer require notice to be given before taking away someone’s British citizenship.
“The Home Office is committed to publishing its transparency report into the use of disruptive powers and will do so in due course,” a Home Office spokesperson told the Guardian.
“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.”