London News & Search
A London MP has revealed she was stopped by UK border control because she did not have the same surname in her passport as her daughter.
Tulip Siddiq, the MP for Hampstead and Kilburn, said 18-month-old Azalea burst into tears when they were questioned by officials and forced to wait until their husband joined them.
They were returning from a family holiday in France with Ms Siddiq’s husband, Chris Percy, when they became separated.
She said she was stopped just before boarding the Eurostar after being allowed to join the fast-track queue with her pushchair.
The 34-year-old told the Guardian: “My daughter looks quite different to me, she looks like her dad.
“At the UK border the man looked at my passport for a long time and my daughter’s passport and he said: ‘Who is this girl?’
“I was really surprised by the question, and he repeated it, and I said: ‘This is my daughter,’ and he asked why we don’t have the same name.
“There was a lot of discussion… the whole thing was very tense, my daughter was crying and saying ‘mama, mama’ but that didn’t seem to be what would convince him.”
Ms Siddiq said she felt uncomfortable about the tone of the questioning.
She said: “It wasn’t exactly hostile but there was a real air of suspicion, I was made to feel like I had done something wrong.”
After a “distressing” and “time-consuming” experience, Ms Siddiq has written to the Home Office to ask for a change to children’s passports so that they contain both their parents’ names.
She found that in the last five years an estimated 600,000 women had been asked to provide evidence they were related to their children when passing through UK border control, pointing out that problem is likely to become more common as women increasingly keep their maiden name after marriage.
The Home Office said the measures are in place to safeguard children and prevent people trafficking.
A spokesman said: “We have a duty to safeguard children and to prevent people trafficking, child sexual exploitation and other crimes committed against children. That is why Border Force staff need to determine whether the adult travelling with the child has parental responsibility or parental authority had been given to travel with the child.
“We aim to do this quickly and with as minimal disruption to passengers as possible and that is why we encourage all parents to make use of the ‘Emergencies’ page in their child’s passport where names and contact details of parents can be written.”
London News & Search