A university lecturer injured in the 7/7 bombings faces being expelled from the UK even though he was born to British parents in a British colony.
By Andrew Gilligan
7:30AM BST 02 Sep 2012
In the frightening days after 7/7, John Tulloch was the face of Britain’s resistance to terror: bloodied, dazed, clothes in shreds, his picture appeared on newspaper front pages around the world.
Sitting opposite a suicide bomber on a Circle Line train, he had been saved from death by his own luggage. He was visited in hospital by the Prince of Wales, who proclaimed him an example of the “resilience of the British people”.
Prof Tulloch, 70, who traces his ancestry here back to the 14th century, was born to British parents in a British colony. He has a British wife, children and brother. He was raised and educated in Britain from the age of three, has substantial assets and property here and has lived or worked in the UK for most of his life, holding a series of posts at British universities. He even held a British passport.
But now, his passport has been confiscated and he faces expulsion from Britain in the latest bizarre twist in this country’s “Kafkaesque” immigration laws.
“I am totally gobsmacked by this,” said Prof Tulloch. “I’ve got a huge attachment to Britain. My family has served Britain for three generations. I’ve been banging my head against a wall trying to get this sorted out, but I’ve never before encountered so much frustration. It’s like Kafka.”
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Prof Tulloch, who still suffers post-traumatic stress disorder, said the problems with his citizenship had worsened the “sense of uncertainty he had suffered since the bombing.
“7/7 is not hard to go back to,” he said. “I can talk about that. What’s hard to go back to is that I am about to be thrown out of the country.
“There I was, hailed as an example of British courage, British pluck and the British spirit, an iconic image of British resistance. I get blown up in the media as a British patriot, then I get kicked out.”
What makes Prof Tulloch’s plight so hurtful to him is that it is a direct consequence of his family’s very service to this country.
He was born to a British Army officer in pre-independence India. Unknown to him, this conferred a lesser form of British nationality known as a “British subject without citizenship”.
He was, he says, never told about this status and was issued with a British passport in the normal way.
“Neither I nor my parents ever received information from the Government that this was somehow an inferior passport,” he said. “In particular, the passport itself explicitly said that you could take out dual nationality without risking your British nationality.”
After a degree at Cambridge, postgraduate study at Sussex and a career in UK academia, Prof Tulloch took a job in Australia and was granted Australian citizenship.
Unlike with a full British citizen, and again unknown to him, this automatically cancelled both his British nationality and his right to live in Britain. When he applied to renew his British passport, it was confiscated.
He was able to return to the UK, where he has held a professorship of communications at Brunel and was head of the School of Journalism at Cardiff University, under a work permit and has spent the majority of his time in recent years in this country.
But as he moves into semi-retirement, he has now been told that he can no longer permanently remain here and can only visit for brief periods as a tourist. The Home Office has also told him that he cannot apply for naturalisation.
“It is getting to crisis point now,” he said. “When I came back from a trip to Vienna, two or three months ago, I got a really hard time at Heathrow. I am worried that if I leave again, I might not be let back in.”
There is no question of Prof Tulloch being a burden on the country. He owns a flat in Penarth, near Cardiff, and has tens of thousands of pounds in savings here. He has always been treated as British for taxation purposes, if not for immigration purposes.
His brother, who does have full British citizenship, is unwell and needs looking after. As even the immigration officer at Heathrow told him, he is exactly the kind of person the country should be welcoming.
But, to him, it is the insult to the generations of his forebears who served Britain that is most troubling. At his home, he shows us the pictures of his father, a major in the Gurkha Rifles who was fighting the Japanese in Burma at the time of his birth.
His grandfather was one of the Empire’s first foresters, his great-grandfather served in the Indian Civil Service, too. “I look back now, on the verge of being thrown out of residence in the UK, at something like 120 years of my family’s distinguished service to Britain in India,” Prof Tulloch said.
“This isn’t simply an insult to me, but to generations of my family, and beyond them to the thousands and thousands of people in India and other colonies who believed that they could call Britain home.”
In July, this newspaper exposed the extraordinary story of Lance Corporal Bale Baleiwai, the soldier British enough to risk his life for this country in Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq, but now facing deportation for a technicality that no civilian would be caught by.
Just as with L/Cpl Baleiwai, the Tulloch family’s service to the country might seem to qualify them for special treatment. In fact, it causes them to be treated worse than anyone else.
Indeed, as British immigration law stands, Prof Tulloch would almost certainly have more chance of staying here if he had been a perpetrator, rather than a victim, of terrorism.
Last year, Ismail Abdurahman, a Somali convicted of providing a safe house for the would-be 21/7 bomber, Hussain Osman, was excused deportation after serving his prison sentence on the grounds that his human rights would be at risk if he was returned to Somalia.
Gobsmacked GOBSMACKED? Simply splendid, I really must use this bit of slang from time to time, absolutely brilliant I say!“I am totally gobsmacked by this,” said Prof Tulloch.