Newham council worker Olakunle Esan, 40, has accused the British Passport Office of racial prejudice in their treatment of his application to renew his passport in November last year.
Mr Esan, who has lived in the UK continuously over the past 23 years, since 1991, had renewed his passport three times during that period without any hassle. Yet, when Mr Esan, who lives in Borough, applied for his passport renewal last year he claims that excessive demands were made of him by the Passport Office to prove that he is not an illegal immigrant.
Mr Esan was trying to renew his passport so that he could visit family in Nigeria when, he claims, he received several “insulting” and “bizarre” requests from the Passport Office for him to prove that he really was who he claimed to be.
Mr Esan says that the Passport Office did not stop at treating him suspiciously but outright accused him of forging a fresh copy of his birth certificate which in fact had recently been issued to him by the General Registry Office.
Mr Esan believes he has been the victim of “racist stereotyping” on the part of Passport Office staff, who he accused of having, “looked at where my parents are from and decided I must be an illegal immigrant.”
During the tedious process, which was dragged out over ten months, Mr Esan was repeatedly told to send off more proof and that his passport would not be issued until documents – including school reports, photographs, and bank statements – spanning his entire lifetime had been received.
“I am shocked and appalled by what has happened,” said Mr Esan. He continued, “As someone who is a British citizen, paid my taxes, worked for the state, to be treated like this is outrageous. It is insulting.”
Mr Esan also argued the unjustified nature of the extra measures taken to ensure he is not an illegal immigrant by the Passport Office, saying, “My mother was issued a new passport last year. I have a birth certificate, all my old passports, my national insurance number. But because I am of Nigerian heritage I have been targeted and am being made to provide these documents as if I am a criminal.”