'˜I feared I'd be deported after 60 years here'
A Blackpool man says he went through a nightmare trying to prove his British citizenship after a problem similar to those suffering over the Government's Windrush scandal.
Michael Daley, 66, of Rectory Road, Marton, says both his parents were born in Lancashire and he himself has lived in Blackpool since he was just 18 months old.
But father-of-four Mr Daley says because he was born in the United States, the Home Office refused him permanent residency in 2015 and it took him 12 months to get the issue sorted out.
His worst fear was that he would lose his right to stay and end up being deported from his own country.
Mr Daley, a former postman who now works as a market trader, said: “I have lived in Blackpool for more nearly 65 years and even my grandparents lived here for a while.
“Can you imagine how this problem made me and my family feel at this time? My parents would have been turning in their graves if they only knew the problems I had.”
He spoke out after it emerged that some people who arrived from the Commonwealth decades ago were being incorrectly identified as illegal immigrants because they entered the country on their parents’ passports and had not applied for their own documentation.
There has been a furious reaction across the country after it emerged that, due to blunders, some of these British citizens are believed to have been deported as part of an ill thought-out crackdown on illegal immigrants.
Prime Minister, Theresa May, has apologised and insisted to MPs that no-one with the right to remain would be deported.
Mr Daley had always held an American passport and never had any issues with it, but his problems began when he attempted to obtain a British passport three years ago.
He explained: “My parents and grandparents ran a hotel in Blackpool in the 1940s and then they decided to try living in a warmer country and emigrated to California.
“That’s where I was born but when I was about 18 months old they decided to return to England and moved back to Blackpool.
“When I left school I decided to join the police cadets and I had no problems, there was no talk about not being eligible.
“For years I travelled on holiday with my American passport and never had problems getting back into the country. But in 2015 my partner, who is from Nigeria and has been having her own problems, suggested it might be a good idea if I got a British passport.
“I never expected any problems but then a letter came back from the Home Office saying they had no record of me and that I wasn’t a British citizen.
“They refused to issue the passport and said I had no right to stay.
“It was even suggested that I go and live in Nigeria and get a Nigerian passport.”
Mr Daley had sought the expertise of a specialist solicitor but this had compounded the problems, because the documents did not include his parents’ birth certificates.
He added: “It took me 12 months to sort, it was a real nightmare.
“Thankfully I had some very good support from my MP, Gordon Marsden, who basically got the thing sorted out. In 2016 I finally got my British passport.
“After everything that happened to me, it brought it all back when I was watching the news and we heard about the Windrush.
“My heart goes out to them, it’s a disgrace.
“My opinion of the Home Office couldn’t be lower, after everything I have been through. I’d give them zero out of 10.”