Former Middlesex fast bowler in immigration limbo for seven years

Richard Stewart came to the UK in 1955 and paid taxes for five decades but is having problems getting a British passport

Richard Stewart was 10 when he moved from Jamaica to London in 1955 to live with his older sister, who was working in the UK as a nurse. His skills as a fast bowler were spotted when he was at school, and in 1966 he was signed up to play cricket for Middlesex.

More than 50 years later, Stewart is facing problems with his immigration status because he does not have a British passport. For the past seven years he has been trying to resolve this problem but he remains in immigration limbo, unable to afford the £1,400 fee to naturalise in the UK.

He is one of the people who could benefit from the Home Office’s announcementof a dedicated 20-person taskforce to deal with cases of Windrush-era British residents who immigration status issues.

He played cricket for Middlesex for three years as Wes Stewart, and had a reputation as a talented fast bowler. When his contract was not renewed he started work at a furniture factory. He then worked for the Belling factory making cookers and later as a painter and decorator. He paid taxes for more than five decades; he married in London, and has a son and two grandchildren, all of whom are British.

When his mother became seriously ill in 1968, he got a temporary British passport to visit her in Jamaica. It expired while he was there because he had to stay longer than expected to attend her funeral. He got a Jamaican passport to return to the UK nine weeks later. When he tried to get a new British passport about seven years ago, he was told he was an overstayer.

His MP, Kate Osamor, said the Home Office told Stewart in 2013 that he had lost his British nationality when Jamaica declared independence in 1962. Osamor is dealing with 14 similar cases. “The uncertainty faced by Richard is yet another example of the government washing their hands of the Windrush generation. British people who came here legally and in good faith are time and again facing the threat of deportation, and it makes a mockery of our relationship with the Commonwealth,” she said.

He hopes his situation will now be resolved quickly. He wants to take his son and grandchildren to Jamaica to visit his mother’s grave. “I’m not getting any younger. I’m thinking about this all the time.”

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