UK

Birth certificate for woman who 'did not legally exist'

An Essex woman told for years that she did not legally exist has finally received proof of her birth.

A bureaucratic mix-up meant that Jade Jacobs-Brooks, 20, did not receive a birth certificate after she was born during a family holiday in Spain.

Over the years she has been refused jobs and been unable to get a passport.

After she was presented with the document live on BBC television, Ms Jacobs-Brooks said she intended to travel abroad "and get a real tan".

Her problems started after UK officials refused to accept documents issued by the hospital in Alicante where she was born.

She said: "My mum and dad thought they had the right papers to register me in the UK. But they were told they had the wrong paperwork."

It was the start of a 20-year saga for her family as they battled red tape and British and Spanish officials in a struggle to prove she legally existed.

Refused entry

They wrote to her local MP, to the then-PM Tony Blair, and even to the Queen. At one stage Ms Jacobs-Brooks' father Victor returned to Alicante to confront Spanish officials in person - but to no avail, as they told him the hospital had no record of his daughter's birth.

Ms Jacobs-Brooks, from Harlow, said: "We were told it wasn't my right to have a birth certificate, and no-one would help me."

No certificate meant she was unable to apply for a passport or a driving licence.

She has never been abroad, and has even had to stay at home while her family went on holiday.

She has been refused entry to clubs and lost jobs because she cannot provide employers with proof of her identity. She cannot even pick up parcels from her local post office.

In the end it took a three-year battle by international law firm Allen and Overy to obtain a Spanish birth certificate for Ms Jacobs-Brooks - which means she can finally register herself for a UK passport and other documents.

Lawyer Andrew Denny told BBC Breakfast: "Neither the Spanish or British governments wanted to take ownership of Jade's problem.

"We saw it as a human rights issue - Jade couldn't work, vote or travel."

Accepting her new certificate live on air, Ms Jacobs-Brooks said the first thing she intended to do was get a passport and travel abroad, "but not to Spain".

She added: "I want a real tan - I'm fed up with fake tans."

More on this story