POLITICS

One Nation's Malcolm Roberts Sent UK Citizenship Questions To Wrong Email Addresses

The Queensland senator was cross-examined in the High Court.

21/09/2017 3:36 PM AEST | Updated 21/09/2017 5:40 PM AEST
Fairfax/Alex Ellinghausen

One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts sent two emails attempting to enquire about and renounce his British citizenship to online addresses that were non-existent or were made defunct more than half a decade earlier, the High Court heard on Thursday.

Roberts appeared at the Court in Brisbane for a cross-examination to address the question of his possible British citizenship and the possibility that he may have been ineligible for election at the time of the July 2016 ballot.

The courtroom heard that Roberts sent the two emails, on May 1 and June 6 2016, to email addresses formerly connected to the UK consulate in Brisbane and the British High Commission in Canberra, the first address did not exist and the second was decommissioned in 2010.

Senior counsel Stephen Lloyd, assisting the court, said the senator had sent the first of the emails titled as "Am I still a British citizen?" to an address ending with the domain ".uksydney", before sending a follow-up email to complain about a lack of response.

"None of these emails according to Senator Roberts' current evidence led to any responses," Lloyd said.

"We say it's relevant in terms of the reasonableness of the steps taken. Whether he sent them to actual addresses.

"They weren't the addresses they were using."

Despite Lloyd also confirming that an Internet search of the term "How to renounce my British citizenship?" reveals the official websites and addresses ending in the correct ".gov.uk" domain -- which was information available at the time Roberts sent the emails -- the Queensland senator told the court he found the incorrect addresses "from his research on the internet".

Roberts is one of seven politicians currently involved in a dual citizenship scandal that could have ramifications for his place in the Federal Parliament. Under section 44 of the constitution, proof of dual citizenship would render him ineligible to serve in the Parliament.

Despite being born in India in 1955 to an Australian mother and Welsh father, the senator and his party leader Pauline Hanson have always maintained he is not a dual citizen. That aside, several reports have shown Roberts, who became an Australian citizen when he was 19, had previously travelled on a British passport and classified himself as a citizen of the United Kingdom on official documents.

While under questioning on Thursday from Lloyd, Roberts also told the court the form he signed to become an Australia citizen was filled out by his then 16-year-old sister -- however he was unaware that it contained a line that claimed he had held UK and Colonies citizenship -- because he didn't read it properly.

"I was 19 and more keen on football than on filling out forms," Roberts said, according to a Fairfax report.

While the One Nation senator first arrived in Australia in 1962, Roberts also told the courtroom that he "had always believed I was Australian" and rejected the suggestion that the "Am I still a British citizen?" email subject line was any proof that he was aware of a possible dual citizenship.

"My inquiry was to see whether or not, to explore the possibility of being British," he said.

"There was a possibility of Indian, and there was a possibility of British – and I checked both."

The acting lawyer for Roberts, Barrister Robert Newlinds, also told Justice Patrick Keane that their case would not contest that the senator may have been a British citizenship at the relevant time of renunciation, which was June 2016, but argued that he did not believe that he was a dual citizen.

And despite this word from his counsel, Roberts went on to say that "it is still not clear in any way that I have British citizenship."

"All my correspondence with the UK prior and after the nomination [for Parliament], no-one from the United Kingdom has said I am British. No-one," he said.

"I believe I have never had citizenship of another country. I would be happy to say that because no one has ever shown me, I had citizenship of another country. But I believe there are various other requirements so I can't rule it out altogether."

The court decision, which is yet to come, will now be determined by whether the presiding High Court judge believes Roberts' emails can be considered as "reasonable steps" towards renouncing his British citizenship, after the UK Home Office officially confirmed the renunciation in December.

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