1. Why do you require a countersignature for a lost or stolen passport?
This is part of the process to establish and confirm the identity of the person who no longer has the passport.
2. Why is it not sufficient to confirm identity from the information you already hold from the lost/stolen passport e.g. photographs, rather than insisting on a counter signature.
Despite our records there are always instances where applicants cannot be easily recognised from the previous passport photograph and therefore a countersignature is required.
3. Is there a policy at HM Passport Office that deems people with working class professions as less trustworthy to countersign a passport application? If the answer is no could you explain in detail why there are no working class professions e.g. plumber, builder, road sweeper in your approved list of countersignature professions.
No. It is clear in the policy that the list is not exhaustive.
4. Is there a specific law that states a British citizen will be denied a passport and therefore the right to leave the country if they genuinely do not know anyone from your list of approved countersignature professions? If yes please state the law.
Passports are issued under the Royal Prerogative not Statute and therefore no law exists as you describe.
5. If someone genuinely does not know anyone from your list of approved countersignature professions do you offer an alternative option to verify identity, if not why.
The list is not exhaustive and so HM Passport Office will consider any countersignatory supplied including those who are retired or unemployed. In these circumstances it is considered unlikely that an applicant would not know an acceptable countersignatory.
6. Is it legal to deny a British citizen a passport and therefore the right to leave the country because they don’t know anyone from your approved list of countersignature professions?
See the answer to question 5. As passports are issued under the Royal Prerogative, the Secretary of State for Home Affairs has the delegated authority from the Monarch to decide on the issue of passports. Passports are issued when the Home Secretary is satisfied as to:
i. The identity of an applicant; and
ii. The British nationality of applicants, in accordance with relevant nationality legislation; and
iii. There being no other reasons for refusing a passport (such as national security or being in the public interest etc).
HM Passport Office may make any checks necessary to ensure that the applicant is entitled to a British passport. The countersignatory requirement is part of the identity checks we undertake.
7. Is it HM Passport Office policy to decline an application because the professional person countersigning the application is not currently employed e.g. maternity leave, and does not have access to company headed paper.
No. Please see answers above.