Mon | Nov 19, 2018

A man without a country - Errol Campbell fights to be recognised as a British citizen

Published:Tuesday | September 25, 2018 | 12:00 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer
Errol Campbell talks with immigration lawyer Jennifer Housen.
Errol Campbell
Immigration attorney Jennifer Housen.
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Errol Campbell, a 59-year-old aerospace engineer, is a citizen of nowhere. Even though born in Britain to Jamaican parents, he is effectively a man without a country.

His story, like many of the Windrush Generation cases now being investigated by the United Kingdom (UK) Home Office, is complex, to say the least.

Campbell was born in London on May 24, 1959, but his birth was not registered at the time because Campbell's father did not believe the child was his.

"My father, according to my mother, believed I was not his. He believed I was actually his nephew, the son of his twin brother, who people accused my mother of having an affair with when my father first went to England," he explained.

"So I ended up initially not having a birth certificate, though born in England, and then by age six, my mother, Louise Agatha Joyce Campbell, left England with me and my younger brothers for Jamaica because the marriage to my father failed."

The family arrived in Jamaica, and the young Campbell was sent to live with his grandmother, while his mother and younger brothers went to live in Trelawny.

The family subsequently went back to the UK, but Campbell remained with his grandmother in Jamaica.

 

NEEDED TO PROVE BRITISH CITIZENSHIP

 

Campbell's lawyer, Jennifer Housen, told The Gleaner that he was unable to return to England because of family issues, resulting in him trying on his own to acquire documentation in order to get back.

"He needed to prove his British citizenship in order to get back there. Unfortunately, it is not as easy as that. Him being out here [in Jamaica], he wasn't getting help from relatives there (UK) to assist him," Housen noted.

"During the whole episode, it meant that he ended up having not gone to high school, as doing so required a (Jamaican) birth certificate, which he didn't have."

It was clear Campbell had no nationality. Still, he tried to work and save money to return to his family in England and finally prove his British identity.

With no way of legally getting that done, he resorted "out of pressure and need", to acquire an illegal Jamaican passport, which he used to travel to the UK.

"I can tell you that the only reason I did that was simply to prove I was British. I felt lost. I was desperate to go home," Campbell said.

He eventually made it back to the UK when he was age 40 - thirty-four years after first arriving in Jamaica.

It was only then that he was legitimately able to get a late registration for his birth certificate, which he received. He was able to get his British passport, and a driver's licence, and was then able to pursue his education.

 

STARTED TO UNRAVEL

 

Life was good for Campbell until things started unravelling.

"I had been travelling back and forth between the UK and Jamaica on several occasions, but the last time I travelled was back in 2010 when I came for a funeral," he shared.

"When I returned to England, that's the time I was stopped. They said someone told them I was travelling on a passport that was illegally obtained."

Campbell's passport was seized, and he was held in an immigration removal centre for three days, then released on bail for six months. He was then convicted of fraudulently obtaining a British passport and jailed for 15 months, despite evidence submitted by his lawyers and relatives that his British passport was legitimate.

Campbell was deported to Jamaica in 2013.

"I have been waging this battle since then. I want to go back home, but I can't, since I don't have a passport. All I want to do is to go home. It's where I was born, and although part of me remains Jamaican, I am equally British," Campbell said.

He said that if it had not been for his wife, who is employed as a nurse in England and who sends money for him monthly to pay his rent and buy food, he would be living on the streets.

Housen not only believes his account, but she also said that based on evidence, Campbell should be considered for redress from the British government.

paul.clarke@gleanerjm.com

 

Windrush Scheme Policy application

Persons seeking redress under the Windrush Scheme Policy may apply to the website https://www.gov.uk/government/ publications/undocumented-commonwealth-citizens-resident-in-the-uk. There is no fee for this application.