Passed in 1948, the British Nationality Act states: “Every person born within the United Kingdom and Colonies after the commencement of this Act shall be a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies by birth.” This act applies to Saint Lucia, once a member of the British West Indies.
Wade Gajadhar was born in Saint Lucia on November 7, 1961 and lives in Middlesborough, England. He told the STAR that he has lived in the UK for close to ten years. Recently he applied for and was denied a British passport, he said. Now he is in the process of challenging the Saint Lucian government in the High Court in London, on the legality of the “Saint Lucia Modifications of Enactments Order” of 1978, which outlines the changes to citizenship which came with Independence.
It reads in part: “Any person who immediately before the appointed day is a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies shall on that day cease to be such a citizen if he becomes on that day a citizen of Saint Lucia.”
It goes on to state that the person would not cease to be a UK citizen if “he, his father, or his father’s father” was born in the UK or a territory, was naturalized or was registered as a citizen of the UK. Mr. Gajadhar argues that there was no information forthcoming at the time that persons would lose their right to British citizenship and therefore it should be deemed invalid.
“I didn’t even know that I lost my status,” said Mr. Gajadhar. “I was born under the British flag, when Saint Lucia was a territory. The outcome I’m looking for is to make that order invalid because all facts were not provided to the Saint Lucian electorate.”
He continued: “I’m quite sure the judges will find that I have a point because you cannot without my authority give away my status as a British citizen and make me only a Saint Lucian citizen; I didn’t know about that.
“What I’m doing is not for me alone, it’s for everybody throughout the Caribbean.”
Mr. Gajadhar intends to file the case next month and is confident of victory. Then again, is it not written somewhere that ignorance of the law is no excuse?