Bahrain confiscates British passports

A diplomatic row has erupted in the Gulf state of Bahrain over the confiscation of British passports by the country's authorities, it emerged today.

British Ambassador Jamie Bowden visited the kingdom's foreign ministry on Sunday to "demand" that the practice stops, Government spokesman Lord Davies of Oldham said.

Mr Bowden also insisted that any passports currently held by the kingdom's authorities be returned to the British embassy in Manama "immediately".

Liberal Democrat spokesman Lord Avebury raised concerns in a written parliamentary question about the "unlawful confiscation of British passports of dual Bahraini-British citizens".

Lord Davies replied: "Our embassy in Bahrain has received a number of reports in recent days from British citizens that British passports have been held by the Bahraini authorities. The same citizens said that this has been happening for some time.

"Our Ambassador attended the foreign ministry on Sunday June 7 to demand that this practice ceases and that any British passports currently held by the Bahraini authorities be returned immediately to the embassy."

Bahrain is a former British protectorate which became independent in 1971 and is ruled by the Al Khalifa royal family.