Norfolk woman still denied a passport

The Home Office was branded "totally incompetent" by a Norfolk MP last night for requiring a law student to provide a UK passport to gain citizenship that it has never issued her.

The Home Office was branded "totally incompetent" by a Norfolk MP last night for requiring a law student to provide a UK passport to gain citizenship that it has never issued her.

Aissa Rice-Tagon, daughter of a Norfolk police officer and a Jamaican mother, has lived in the UK all her life but has never been the citizen of any country.

The 23-year-old's situation only came to light in 2001 when she tried to go on holiday with friends but was denied a passport because her parents weren't married at the time of her birth.

For the last five years, the Potter Heigham-based family have been fighting to gain Aissa British citizenship so that she could get a passport and visit relations in Jamaica.

Two years ago, North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb became involved and after her plight featured in the EDP, Aissa garnered national media attention.

The former aspiring model, who is studying to gain qualifications needed to take a law degree, was told by the Home Office that providing she could provide documents showing her father was British, citizenship could be obtained.

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But yesterday she told the EDP that she has now received a letter from the Home Office which states that for an application for citizenship to proceed, she needs to send in her original passport covering 2001 to today.

She said: "When I saw the envelope my hopes was this saga would finally be over - then I saw the letter and just started screaming at it.

"It was a complete kick in the teeth. How can they not realise that I don't have a passport? That's what this whole sorry mess is about.

"Sending this letter makes the Home Office look like it's being run by stupid people. It's all so frustrating and all so depressing."

Father Paul Rice, a police communications officer based in Yarmouth, said: "It beggars belief, it makes me furious. Of course she doesn't have a passport with the Home Office not considering her a British subject. It seems the saga continues."

Mr Lamb said: "This is total incompetence. It's outrageous that it's taken so long and we still haven't got a resolution from the Home Office.

"What a way to treat a young person, risking alienating her from the values we hold dear. She's been here all her life and this should have been resolved very quickly."

Mr Lamb said that he would bring that matter up in a face-to-face meeting with a Home Office minister after the summer recess.

A couple of months before Aissa was born in May 1983 citizenship rules changed meaning that because her parents weren't married there was no automatic entitlement to nationality.

She said that her frustration had been made worse because grandparents, aunts and uncles all have British citizenship despite not being born here.