Dear Home Office,

At https://visas-immigration.service.gov.uk... the form says:

"Referees must also not have been convicted of an imprisonable offence. A single non-custodial sentence may be disregarded if:
* it did not occur within the last 12 months
* there is strong evidence showing that the referee is of [good character] [links to https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/sy... ]"

In turn, https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk... does not seem to have any reference to the good character of a referee; it only mentions the term as to the applicant.

This conflicts with HO guidance https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk... at p 10 which says:

"The referee must not:

• have been convicted of an imprisonable offence in the last 10 years for which the sentence is not spent under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974"

The form says 1 non-custodial sentence in the last 1 year may be disregarded; does not refer to spent convictions; refers to the referee's good character; and has no limit on the lookback period. The 2nd guidance document does not say any unspent sentence may be disregarded; does not refer to evidence of the referee's good character; and has a 10 year lookback period. These are very different standards.

Could you please:
1. confirm for me which of the above standards is correct,
2. confirm for me what 'good character' standard applies to a referee as referred to by the form (with a page reference and link to the applicable guidance), and
3. correct the form and/or the guidance to conform to the correct standard?

Sincerely,
Sai

FOI Requests, Home Office

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Dear Home Office,

> The form says 1 non-custodial sentence in the last 1 year may be disregarded

Correction: it says 1 non-custodial sentence over 1 year ago may be disregarded.

Sincerely,
Sai

FOI Requests, Home Office

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FOI Requests, Home Office

Dear Sai,

Thank you for contacting the Home Office with your request.

Section 8(1) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 requires that a request for information must provide enough of their real name to give anyone reading that request a reasonable indication of their identity. Your email does not do this. We are therefore refusing your request because it does not meet the requirements for a request for information under the Act.
Any variation of your title or first name combined with your surname would be sufficient (e.g., Miss or Mrs C Smith).
Please see link below for the Information Commissioner's Guidance on the requirements for an FOI Request and advice on the details you need to provide.
https://ico.org.uk/media/for-organisatio...
Paragraph 25 of the guidance, applies.
If you provide your name as required, we will be happy to consider your request again. Please resend your request in full.

Regards
Home Office

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Dear Home Office,

I request internal review re my FOIA request 'Offence standard for citizenship application referees', https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/o...

Your rejection wrongly claims that I did not provide my name for the purposes of s 8(1)(b) Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA). In fact I did. I am mononymous, and I do not use any title.

The ICO has previously ruled in my favour on exactly this issue — most notably, in the published case IC-158493-C1Q2 (https://ico.org.uk/media/action-weve-tak...), against the Home Office, arising from its s 8(1)(b) FOIA refusal of my request ref 68298 (available at https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/h...) and its consequent violation of ss 1 & 10 FOIA.

Even if that were not the case, s 8(1)(b) says only "the name of the applicant" — not "the title of the applicant" nor "the full legal name of the applicant" nor anything similar. Although I agree that ICO guidance suggests that a title or "real name" may be required — https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/foi... — I believe that guidance to be an incorrect reading of the statute. The word "name", alone (as in s 8(1)(b) FOIA), is not so rigidly defined in law. Where Parliament wanted to impose a more stringent requirement, it used more precise terms, and that difference must be given legal effect — see e.g.:
* s 27(3) Marriage Act 1949 ("name and surname");
* ss 54A(4) & 54B(2) Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000; s 364(2)(b), (2)(g), (3)(b), & (3)(f) Proceeds of Crime Act 2002; and ss 1C(1)(a) & 1E(1)(a) Elections Act 2022 ("full name");
* sch 3A(2)(a)(ii) & (2)(b)(iii) Counter-Terrorism Act 2008 ("full name as it appears in the [passport / identity document]");
* sch 1 s 6(2), (2A), (4)(a) Representation of the People Act 1983 ("full names", "surname", and "forenames");
* s 67(4)(a) Pensions Act 2004 ("full names and titles"); and
* ss 28A(7)(b) Immigration Act 1971; and ss 24(5)(a), 38(1)(a)(i), 61(6B)(b) Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 ("real name").

As the use of mononym or lack of title are generally (and in my case) related to gender identity, discriminating against me for not using a title or for having a mononym is a breach of ss 1 & 10 FOIA; ss 6, 11, 13, 19, & 29 Equality Act 2010 (direct & indirect discrimination based on gender and/or gender reassignment); and s 6 Human Rights Act 1998 under ECHR arts 8 (respect for private & family life), 10 (freedom of expression), & 14 (discrimination on grounds of "sex", "national minority", & "other status").

Finally, your published statement that I did not provide my "real name" is defamatory libel, because you wrongly and offensively claim that I made a false statement of my identity, thereby publicly impugning my honesty.

The Home Office are therefore now in breach of both the law (as above) and of res judicata established by the ICO in a case by me against the HO on exactly this issue. I accordingly request that you
a. reverse your denial, agree that my request fully complied with s 8 FOIA, and process it as made;
b. treat it as having been properly made when originally received on 19 March (rather than some later date) for the purposes of s 10 FOIA, as required by ss 10(1) & 10(6)(a);
c. clearly apologise for, and retract, your false and defamatory claim that I did not provide my name or otherwise acted at all dishonestly or improperly with respect to s 8(1)(b); and
d. change your policy to prevent this from happening yet again in future.

I would strongly prefer that you resolve this voluntarily. However, if you refuse, please tell me immediately, so that I may file an appeal with the ICO for stronger measures to be taken this time than last time.

Sincerely,
Sai

FOI Requests, Home Office

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FOI Requests,

Dear Sai,

Thank you for contacting the Home Office with your request.

This has been assigned to a caseworker (case ref FOI2024/02972). We will
aim to send you a full response by 19th April which is twenty working days
from the date we received your request.

A link to the Home Office Information Rights Privacy Notice can be found
in the following link. This explains how we process your personal
information:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publicatio...

Kind Regards,

Home Office

FOI Responses, Home Office

2 Attachments

Sai,

 

Please see the attached in relation to your Freedom of Information request

 

Sincerely

 

Freedom of Information Requests

Migration and Borders Group | Home Office

 

 

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