The government has used little-known powers to strip at least 53 people of their British nationality since 2002, a Bureau investigation has found. Forty-eight of these cases have occurred under the Coalition government.
The Home Secretary can use powers in the British Nationality Act to remove the citizenship of an individual if she believes their presence in the UK is ‘not conducive to the public good’, or if they have acquired their citizenship by fraud.
The Bureau has identified 18 individuals, of whom 17 lost their citizenship on national security grounds. Fifteen of these individuals were abroad at the time of the deprivation order. Where cases are on national security grounds, they are often based on evidence that remains secret, hidden even from the affected individual and their lawyers. Leading immigration lawyer Gareth Peirce has described the process as akin to ‘medieval exile’.
The Home Secretary, Theresa May, recently expanded the government’s current citizenship-stripping powers and will now be able to strip foreign-born, naturalised individuals of their UK citizenship on national security grounds even if it renders them stateless, a practice described by a former director of public prosecutions as being ‘beloved of the world’s worst regimes during the 20th century’.