Senator Xenophon was born in Adelaide but his father Theo Xenophou was born in Cyprus, which was a British territory until 1960, and came to Australia in 1951 as a British citizen.
According to an official document on the UK Government’s website, “a child who is treated as legitimate under the 1976 Act will be a British citizen if the father was such a citizen – or a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies with close UK connections – at the time of the child’s birth, and the child would have acquired citizenship automatically at birth if, in fact, the legitimate issue of a valid marriage”.
Xenophon told InDaily he was unaware of any renunciation of British citizenship on his father’s part – suggesting the senator-to-be would have had citizenship as a British subject conferred upon him when he was born in Adelaide, in 1959.
Asked if he was aware of his father ever renouncing British citizenship, Xenophon told InDaily “no” – however he insisted the “I have never been a (British citizen)” and that he had never renounced British citizenship for that reason.
He said he believed there were “different classes of British citizenship” for British colonies that would have had bearing on the conferral of citizenship, or otherwise, at the time of his birth.
“I’m not sure what my (status) father travelled to Australia on,” said Xenophon.
“The status of a person in a former colony of the United Kingdom is quite different (to a UK resident).
“There’s also the issue of Cyprus becoming independent.”
Xenophon said he officially renounced his Cypriot citizenship before he was first elected in 2007, however it is unclear what affect this has had on his apparent British citizenship-by-descent.
“I don’t understand the technicalities,” he said.
“I hope to have the documents (from the British Home Office) by Monday.”
Xenophon vowed to release all documents from the British Home Office in full when he receives them.
His mother was born in Greece.
The South Australian senator, who was first elected in 2007, wrote that year to the Greek embassy and the Cypriot high commission seeking to renounce any possible citizenship.
On Tuesday amid the citizenship scandal he told reporters in Canberra he was not certain he received any formal documentation about his renunciations.
“I’d have to go through literally boxes and boxes of archives from an election campaign 10 years ago,” he said.
“I have never had citizenship of another country, never wanted citizenship of another country.”
However he started making inquiries about British ties when it was raised with him by journalists last week and Labor members taunted him about it in the corridors of Parliament House.
“I’m writing to the UK Home Office and contacting the UK high commission … I’m doing all I can to clarify it and sort it out,” Xenophon told reporters in Adelaide today.
He said he would not stand aside from the Senate if the issue was referred to the High Court.
“The great irony is my father left Cyprus in 1951 in order to get away from British occupation of Cyprus,” the senator said.
“The suggestion I could be a British citizen is something that would absolutely horrify my father.”
Xenophon said the issue was becoming a “train wreck” and it would be valuable to conduct a citizenship audit of all members and senators.
More to come
– with AAP
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