Still not French after 74 years in France
Friday 14 February 1997
A great-grandmother, aged 83, she has lived for 74 years in Morlaix, a small town in Brittany, believing herself to be French. One day last March, she applied for a new identity card and was told she was not French, or at least could not prove she was French.
Mrs Le Leyour had become French (or so she thought) when she married 66 years ago. She had voted in every French election over seven decades, had had French children, French grandchildren and French great-grandchildren. She had owned a succession of French identity cards and passports.
When her identity card expired last year, she applied for a new, computerised one. She was asked to produce a Certificate of French Nationality, which had never been required before and which, as far as she knew, she had never possessed. (The rules for automatic renewal of French identity cards have been changed as part of the switch to computerised cards. But many suspect identity and immigration procedures are being tightened in response to criticisms from Jean-Marie Le Pen's far-right Front National).
In any event, Mrs Le Leyour was refused a new card. She appealed to the local courts and was again refused. The court said she must "justify her possession of French citizenship". For the last 11 months she has been technically stateless.
This week, her lawyer, Gilles Caroff, appealed to the government, to publicise her case nationally. Yesterday, the Interior Minister, Jean- Louis Debre sent her a personal letter promising he would waive the rules. By early afternoon, Mrs Le Leyour was French again and had the card to prove it.
Mr Caroff said yesterday itwas a case of "bureaucratic lunacy". He had brought a string of witnesses to attest to Mrs Le Leyour's Frenchness but it was not judged sufficient. "At least it has ended happily," he said.
The story coincides with a row over immigration rules. A law proposed by Mr Debre to "streamline" the procedures was stiffened by the National Assembly and then softened by the Senate last week. The suspicion is that the government wishes to play both sides of the fence, to deflect attacks from Mr Le Pen's Front National.
- 1 Thailand deaths: Pair's bloodied bodies found naked on Koh Tao beach
- 2 Scottish independence: Ireland since 1919 is a lesson for Scotland in what a Yes vote means
- 3 Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
- 4 John Travolta addresses former pilot's gay romance allegations publicly for the first time
- 5 Kanye West stops concert after two fans don't stand up - doesn't realise one is in wheelchair and the other disabled
Thailand deaths: Pair's bloodied bodies found naked on Koh Tao beach
Scottish independence: Police will be on high alert on Friday whatever the result
John Travolta addresses former pilot's gay romance allegations publicly for the first time
QS university world rankings: Imperial College London leapfrogs Oxford to join Cambridge as best British university
Scottish independence exclusive: Millions of banknotes sent to Scotland in case Yes vote sparks run on ATMs
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Scottish independence: Yes campaign feels the heat as Alex Salmond's NHS claims come under furious attack
Portuguese academic says British are 'filthy, violent and drunk'
£23m Birmingham cycle scheme is attacked by Tory councillor for not catering to the elderly
£35000 - £50000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior QA Engineer (Agil...
£26000 - £28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Digital Marketing Executive (SEO, PP...
£40000 - £50000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our retail client ...
£400 - £450 Per Annum possibly more for the right candidate: Clearwater People...