Home Office ‘denies full settled status’ to top chef who cooked for royal family

‘This is ridiculous,’ says Damian Wawrzyniak, who has lived and worked in UK for 15 years

Peter Stubley
Saturday 24 August 2019 20:20 BST
Why is the Home Office getting so many immigration decisions wrong?

A Polish chef who cooked for the royal family and at the London Olympics has criticised the Home Office’s “ridiculous” decision to deny him settled status in the UK after Brexit.

Damian Wawrzyniak said he had lived in the UK for almost 15 years, paid thousands of pounds in taxes and now employed several staff while running his own restaurant.

He applied to the Home Office’s contentious EU citizens settlement scheme in the hope of being given permission to live and work in the country indefinitely.

However he received a letter telling him he had only been granted “pre-settled status”, which expires after five years. It would also mean he must maintain continuous residence in the UK to ensure he earns the right to stay from 2022.

Mr Wawrzyniak posted the Home Office letter on Twitter on Friday. ”This is ridiculous”, he wrote: ”Just to remind you: I am constantly on British media, I have cooked twice for the royal family, I was head chef at London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics”.

The 39 year-old father-of-two said: “It was against my beliefs to apply to stay in my own home but I decided to do it – and now this is what I get. They have basically said, ‘Thanks very much, you can stay for five more years’.

“I will appeal this and, if I need to, I’ll employ my solicitors. But there are millions of others who will not be able to understand what is going on. We need to get ready for a massive backlash on this.”

David Lammy, MP for Tottenham and pro-EU campaigner, called the decision “hugely worrying” and campaign group The 3million questioned how many EU citizens were being given a lesser status than they were entitled to under the scheme.

MPs have already warned that the Home Office is at risk of “another Windrush scandal” if they do not get the detail of the EU citizens’ settlement scheme right after Brexit.

The Home Office, which has announced plans to end free movement on 31 October if there is a no-deal Brexit, said one million people have so far been “granted status” under the settlement scheme.

Of the 800,000 applications dealt with by the end of June, 65 per cent (523,330) were granted full status and 35 per cent (279,950) were granted pre-settled status.

Mr Wawrzyniak, who has a restaurant near Peterborough, said that the Home Office decision had tempted him to look for offers of work elsewhere.

“Due to whole situations with my pre-settled status, all the offers from EU countries & US are becoming more tempting,” he tweeted.

The chef has cooked alongside Mary Berry on her BBC show and was in charge of the champagne and seafood restaurant at the 2012 London Olympics and the Paralympics.

While working as Britain’s Polish food ambassador in 2017, he travelled to Gdansk to cook for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. He has also cooked for the Princess Royal in the UK.

A Home Office spokesman said: “We have contacted Mr Wawrzyniak to help and anyone else needing support can call the settlement resolution centre where hundreds of staff are standing by.

“The automatic checks against government data are making it straightforward for the vast majority of people to apply, but occasionally more information is needed.

“EU citizens and their families have until at least December 2020 to apply.”

More people from Poland have applied for settled status than any other European Union member state so far, with nearly 154,000 compared to 125,500 from Romania and 106,100 from Italy.

Additional reporting by Press Association

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