Passport photo of baby rejected as offensive

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The Independent Online

A mother complained of official "political correctness" yesterday after she was told she could not use a photo of her bare-chested baby son for a passport because it could be deemed offensive.

Tracey Barnes claims passport officials told her that a topless picture of her son Lewis would offend people in "fanatical religious countries".

The nine-month-old had been sick before having his photo taken last month and his top had to be removed for the pictures.

Mrs Barnes, from Claverham, Somerset, was shocked when she received a reply telling her that they were unsuitable because the baby was undressed. She said: "When I spoke to the passport office one man told me that the pictures would be offensive to people in fanatical religious countries. We are going to Greece; it's hardly a hotbed of fundamentalism. I couldn't believe it, Lewis is a nine-month-old baby boy and the picture of him is by no means an offensive one."

Mrs Barnes went on: "This sort of political correctness will only serve to stir up racial tensions. It's just stupid."

A spokeswoman for the Home Office said: "It appears that in this case an error was made by the official dealing with the application.

"There is no official passport policy relating to displaying bare chests on passport photographs as UK Passport Service requires a photograph to show head and shoulders only." Revised guidance would be issued to ensure that examiners knew the correct policy, she said.