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Friday, 19 February 2010


This is the reply sent to my MP after he contacted the British Embassy in Delhi on my behalf.

thank you for your e-mail to the High Commissioner, he has asked me to reply as head of the Consular Department here.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office's policy on offering consular assistance to dual nationals is clearly laid out in our guide 'Support for British nationals abroad'. As Mr Pagnacco is a dual national travelling on his Italian passport the Italian Embassy is responsible for offering him consular assistance while he is in India and we understand that consular staff at the Italian Embassy in Delhi are doing so. I have attached a link to the the guide for your information.

The British High Commission has on several occasions raised with the Indian authorities the fact that foreigners who are bailed or involved in court cases in India experience problems with their immigration documents. In our experience it is unlikely that the immigration authorities will agree to extend Mr Pagnacco's visa while a court case is pending. From experience in similar cases, the most practical way for Mr Pagnacco to resolve the problem would be for him to contact the Superintendent of Police in Ajmer, where he was arrested, and request a written order stating that he is required to remain in India until his case his completed. This order can then be produced when he would otherwise show a visa, for example when checking into a hotel. The Police may need to liaise with the Ministry of Home Affairs in Delhi to issue this order. As Mr Pagnacco's visa was on his Italian passport he may wish to ask the Italian Embassy to support his request.


Catherine O'Neill

Vice Consul

British High Commission,

New Delhi

I'd asked them to raise my case to the attention of the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs. The Italian Embassy have done this already (twice). It took the form of a 20 minute meeting and I understand they'd invited their UK counterparts to join them. They declined. Before the second meeting the Italian consul had with the MHA I also phoned Catherine to invite her, suggesting they could send someone as an "observer", seeing as they have publicly stated they are "keeping a close eye on the situation". They again declined to send anyone to the meeting.

Catherine was unaware I had been released on bail when I called her 3 days later, so the phrase "keeping a close eye on the situation" quoted in the UK papers was little more than back covering PR, and made me think of what a chef does when he watches a pig on a spit roast. Catherine: if you are keeping as diligent an eye on my website, please feel free to respond (assuming consular regulations allow you to post comments on an Dual National's blog)

It's frustrating that they have been so recalcitrant. Perhaps a joint approach from both Italian and British embassies would have made the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs sit up and take (some/more) notice of what's happening out in Rajasthan, and invite local cops to chivvy things along a bit? Perhaps not, but it really wouldn't have taken much.

Consuls can't do a great deal in foreign countries, aside from personal contacts and a bit of mutual back scratching. But India functions on that, and the more people you can ask to make a call on your behalf, the more likely something is to unlock for you. I wasn't asking them to threaten India with trade sanctions, just a quiet word in the right ear.

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