The UK Home Office is facing fresh charges of incompetence after officials seeking to deport an Indian asylum seeker managed to confuse him in its paperwork with at least three other refugees.
Ranjit Singh, 38, who has a large tattoo of his wife on his back, was “surprised” to have been variously recorded as being the dependant of a student, an applicant for British citizenship, a successful candidate for temporary leave to remain and a partner of a man he had never met.
The erroneous claims about Singh’s status and past life were made in a Home Office letter refusing his application for permanent leave to remain and in documents provided to him following a subject access request that had compelled the Home Office to disclose relevant information.
It is understood Home Office officials had confused Singh with three other men of the same name while processing his claim to stay in the UK. An appeal tribunal due to hear Singh’s asylum case has been adjourned while his lawyers wait on new and correct government paperwork.
Naga Kandiah, of MTC Solicitors, said the Home Office had also managed to breach data protection laws by handing over private information about the other Singhs to his client in their correspondence.
He said: “Our client’s case is an example of how an inexperienced case worker who copied and pasted someone else’s details without even checking the case. They had a year to process the application and did a five-minute job which resulted in a breach of GDPR.”
Singh, a Sikh from a Punjab village in India, first claimed aslyum when he arrived in the UK in 2007. That was rejected but he claims not to have been notified at the time.
He lives with his wife, Dilrukshi, in Hayes in west London. He applied for leave to remain in the UK in 2021 as he wished to register his Catholic marriage to her. Singh’s application to stay in the UK on human rights grounds was subsequently rejected but the letter of refusal contained numerous errors.
Singh’s wife, a kitchen manager, said her husband had been unable to earn money due to his lack of status and had become “mentally down” after two years of waiting for a decision, only for it to contain so many mistakes about his position.
She said: “When our lawyer said that one reason his application had been rejected is that he had already been married with a gay man we were surprised. Then we find out all the other things he was supposed to have done. He gets mad, to be honest, he is so upset. It’s not right, this is about people’s lives”.
The Home Office has a large backlog of asylum cases to process. More than 175,000 asylum seekers are waiting for an initial decision on their application, a record high, according to Home Office statistics released last month.
The Refugee Council has complained that the delays were “having a devastating impact on the people we work with, whose lives are put on hold indefinitely while they anxiously wait to hear whether they will be allowed to stay in the UK”.
Of asylum appeals resolved in 2022, more than half (51%) were allowed, rising from 29% in 2010, according to the Home Office’s most recent annual accounts.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “We do not routinely comment on individual cases.”