Passport official suspended amid claims she interrogated applicant over sexuality

Charity worker complained about questions about his adopted children, relationship with their biological mother and whether he had had sex with a woman

Click to follow
The Independent Online

A passport official has been suspended amid an investigation into claims by an American-born British citizen that he was interrogated about his sexuality.

Randall Cole, 44, a charity worker, who is married to a British man Stuart Wales, said he had been expecting a “straightforward interview” about his application for a UK passport.

But he said the official’s questions about his adopted children, their relationship with their biological mother and whether he had had sex with a woman left him feeling “violated and dirty”.

“I told her I am here with my son Samuel and that he has an older brother but that my husband is looking after him – and when I used the term husband that's when you could see something immediately changed in her. She began to fixate on questions about my family,” Mr Cole told The Guardian.

“She said: 'Is this your biological child?' And when I said no she said: 'Is it your partner's biological child?' And when I explained that we are family through adoption she said: 'Oh, so that's why you're able to have children.'

"She then asked 'What do the children call their birth mother?' and 'What does the birth mother think about all of us?' and 'Aren't the children confused by it all?'"

He said the official had asked him what he thought people “make of you when they see you walking down the street with your kids?”

Mr Cole also claimed she told him “Oh, so you’re like the housewife” when he said he worked part-time.

He tried to stop the line of questioning when she asked whether he had had sex with women in the past.

“She became indignant and said: 'We can ask anything we want, regardless of whether or not it makes you feel uncomfortable,’” he said.

“But it was clear she was trying to humiliate me – a way to get me to say if I'd had sex with a woman. She said I could refuse to answer but my lack of response would be noted and then proceeded to try to get me to answer, through a variety of questions, whether I or Stuart had previously been sexually active heterosexually.”

Mr Cole, who has filed a written complaint, said he and his husband had moved to Britain from the US because of “the promise of a tolerant society”.

A Home Office spokesman said: "Intrusive questions about someone's sexuality as part of an interview would be inappropriate and is not a reflection of our policy.

"The member of staff in question has been suspended and a disciplinary investigation is now under way."