Europe

Labor MP still can’t find paperwork to prove he renounced British citizenship

Labor backbencher David Feeney has told the High Court he does not yet have any paperwork to prove he revoked his British citizenship before he was elected to Parliament.

Key points:

  • David Feeney, Katy Gallagher both referred to High Court in December
  • Mr Feeney says he renounced British citizenship in 2007 but told court he could not yet produce documents
  • Senator Gallagher took steps to renounce British citizenship but didn't receive confirmation until too late

Mr Feeney and his colleague Katy Gallagher, an ACT senator, have both been referred to the High Court to determine their eligibility over dual citizenship concerns.

Their cases were heard for the first time at a preliminary directions hearing this morning in Brisbane.

Section 44 of the constitution prohibits dual citizens from serving in federal parliament, and has already cost seven politicians their seats in parliament and prompted two by-elections.

The latest politicians caught up in the dual citizenship cloud were referred to the High Court in December, after a register detailing every MP and senator's foreign links was made public.

Mr Feeney's father was born in Northern Ireland, and documents provided to the citizenship register showed that meant he may have been entitled to dual British citizenship.

He told the Parliament he had applied to renounce his British citizenship in 2007, but could not find the relevant renunciation documents. His case was then referred to the High Court.

Thomas O'Brien, a lawyer for Mr Feeney, told the hearing today his client still did not have any paperwork to provide to the court for consideration.

"For some reason, it was not registered by the relevant UK authorities," Mr O'Brien said.

Senator Gallagher's mother was born in Ecuador to British parents and she obtained British citizenship by descent.

Documents she provided to the citizenship register in December showed she was still a dual citizen of the United Kingdom when she nominated for the last federal election.

She had taken the steps required to give up her UK citizenship before nominations for that election closed, but did not receive confirmation from the UK Home Office until August 16 — two months after the cut-off date.

Experts are still being sought to consider further evidence from both politicians.

A date for a further directions hearing has not yet been finalised, but it is likely to be held in February or March.

Justice Susan Kiefel said the court was trying to "treat every matter" as one of extreme urgency, and noted the resumption of Parliament was drawing closer.

Original Article

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