Juan Eu Konek

Sir Mo Farah – Should He Be Stripped of His Citizenship?

By: Mia Gooch

Source: The Guardian, BBC, FreeMovement and Gov.uk

At the age of 9, Hussein Abdi Kahin was removed from his home country, Somaliland, and given the name ‘Mohammed Farah’ (‘Sir Mo Farah’). He was illegally trafficked to the UK under the name of another child and forced to work as a domestic slave. In a brutally honest and raw documentary with the BBC, he reveals the true nature of his past and has since been met with outstanding support and sympathy. However, questions were raised as to whether the accomplished Olympian should be stripped of his British citizenship. 

Sir Mo Farah revealed that he was taken from his family home by an unknown woman. She told him he would be travelling to Europe to live with his relatives, but this was far from the truth. Upon arriving to the UK, he was placed with a family he had never met and the piece of paper that had his relatives’ contact details were destroyed. He was threatened and told that if he wanted food or a chance to see his family again, he was not allowed to say anything. From this point on, he was forced to do housework and childcare.  

Until the age of 12, Sir Mo Farah was not allowed to attend school. He enrolled in Feltham Community College and his teachers were told that he was a refugee from Somalia. The chance to an education is what led to his love for athletics, it was not only a hobby but an escape from his horrific living conditions.

He eventually confided in his PE teacher, Mr Alan Watkinson, about his identity, past and what was going on at home. This prompted Mr Alan Watkinson to contact social services. Sir Mo Farah was removed from his home and was fostered by a Somali Family. This was a turning point in his life, not only did his living condition improve but his athleticism rapidly progressed.

As his abilities grew, he was invited to tournaments and competitions outside the UK. However, as he did not have any travel documents, this prevented him from doing competing. Mr Alan Watkinson helped him obtain his British citizenship under the name ‘Mohammed Farah’. 

The Home Office has powers section 40 of the British Nationality Act (1981) to strip an individual of their British citizenship ‘if it was obtained by fraud, false representation or concealment of a material fact’. As of January 2022, 464 people have been stripped of their British Citizenship. As for Sir Mo Farah’s situation, the Home Office has officially stated “no action whatsoever will be taken against Sir Mo and to suggest otherwise is wrong.”.

If the Home Office enforced their powers, Sir Mo Farah’s personal circumstances and life in the UK must be considered by the Home Office. He has a British wife, British children and has lived in the UK for 20 years. This would allow him to remain in the UK based on his family and private life. Alternatively, if the Home Office conclude that he is a victim of modern slavery, he could also be automatically considered for discretionary leave to remain in the UK. 

Sir Mo Farah’s perseverance, courage, strength and support from his teachers provided an environment that allowed him to flourish. He went on to win ten global championship gold medals, making him the most successful male track distance runner ever and he is the most successful British track athlete in modern Olympic Games history. He is well known and made great contributions to the UK which go beyond sport.  

Whilst the government has put immigration rules and employment laws in place to prevent this horrific situation from occurring, there are lots of victims of modern slavery or human trafficking in the UK.

If you suspect or know someone who is a victim of modern slavery, the Dias Solicitors team can help you out. We offer a free initial consultation, please contact us on 020 3865 0636 or visit our website https://www.diassolicitors.com/