Boris Johnson’s (Not So) Good Character

Dealing with an application for naturalisation as a British citizen recently for one of my clients which presented some issues relating to Good Character, I was struck by a largely unnoticed but rather revealing snippet regarding the Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s parking habits.

Writing in the Guardian, Polly Toynbee wrote:

“Consider as well this small vignette: Johnson’s Toyota Previa people carrier had been parked outside [his partner] Symonds’s flat overnight but was reportedly driven away Friday afternoon. It had three parking tickets…Another neighbour was reported as saying: “It’s got loads of parking tickets on it. He just leaves it here. He doesn’t care.” That’s the attitude: parking tickets are for little people.”

My client was concerned that he had accrued three fixed penalty notices due to parking offences in the space of two years and worried whether this could harm his application for naturalisation by falling foul of the Good Character requirement.

Although not defined in legislation, UK Visas & Immigration (UKVI) has published guidance setting out the types of conduct which must be taken into account when assessing whether a person has satisfied the requirement to be of good character.

“It’s got loads of parking tickets on it. He just leaves it here. He doesn’t care.”

The relevant section of the UKVI guidance states the following in relation to parking offences, fixed penalty notices when assessing Good Character:

Receiving one [a fixed penalty notice] does not form part of a person’s criminal record. A fixed penalty notice will not normally result in refusal unless the person has failed to pay or has unsuccessfully challenged the notice and there were subsequent criminal proceedings resulting in a conviction. In such instances, they should be treated in line with the sentence imposed by the court. 

However, multiple fixed penalty notices over a short period of time could demonstrate a disregard for the law and therefore demonstrate that someone is not of good character.

In respect of my client, his receipt of three fixed penalty notices in the space of two years is unlikely to trigger a refusal under the Good Character requirement and they were all promptly paid off, although one can never be too certain, and we await news of the outcome of his application from the UKVI.

It’s interesting to wonder whether our Prime Minister has ever paid the penalty charges for his parking offences. On his neighbour’s anecdotal evidence, it appears that he has certainly received multiple fixed penalty notices over a short period of time.

multiple fixed penalty notices over a short period of time could demonstrate a disregard for the law and therefore demonstrate that someone is not of good character.

On the basis of the UKVI’s own guidance as outlined above, it is tempting to speculate whether our own Prime Minister, Mr. Boris Johnson, would be found to have demonstrated a ‘disregard for the law’ and to be ‘someone…not of good character’.

Certainly, if Mr. Johnson attended my office for advice on a speculative citizenship application, I would be concerned that his application could fail on grounds of Good Character. Dramatic as this sounds, it is often small and seemingly innocuous issues like this that can lead to refusals of citizenship applications – applicants beware!

Image credit: https://www.motoringresearch.com/car-news/features/order-order-cars-british-politicians/

Written by
John Cahill