Until last week, 20-year-old Jade Jacob-Brooks did not officially exist. A bureaucratic mix up by a Spanish hospital and intransigence by the British authorities meant that the 20-year-old was unable to obtain a birth certificate, meaning that she could not obtain a passport, a driving license, or even apply for a job.
The Spanish authorities issued the incorrect documentation, and without a valid Spanish birth certificate she has never been able to register her birth in Britain. The problem came to a head four years ago when she applied for a Saturday job but was turned down because she was unable to provide her ID.
Jade was born on 25th September, 1991 at the Vega Baja Hospital, near Alicante on the Costa Blanca, as her parents Linda and Victor enjoyed a holiday. A series of misunderstandings and bureaucratic errors meant they left Spain without the correct documentation, and have spent the last two decades trying to sort it out. Her parents were told they had been given the correct documentation by the hospital to register the birth. But when they returned to England the UK registrars refused to accept the details as proof of birth.
Her father Victor returned to Alicante when Jade was a toddler to confront Spanish officials in person — but they told him the hospital had no record of his daughter’s birth. Finally, after a more than four-year battle involving a law firm, the Spanish authorities have issued Jade with a birth certificate.
In a moment of desperation she wrote to the Queen asking for help, but was told the matter was “not a human rights issue.”
Jade missed school trips and even stayed at home alone when the rest of her family went on holidays abroad “My 18th birthday was not the big landmark that other people’s were,” she said. “Everyone was going to bars and clubs but I couldn’t go because I had no ID.”
Jade, who hopes to work as an administrator in the City of London, said: “It’s been incredibly frustrating. My mum and dad thought they had the right papers to register me in the UK. But when they were translated they were told they had the wrong paperwork. We were told it wasn’t my right to have a birth certificate.”
Now Jade says that as soon as she can get a passport she intends to go abroad for a holiday. “But there’s no way I’m going to Spain.”