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Passport photograph of girl's bare shoulders rejected 'as it may
- London Telegraph
A five-year-old girl's passport application was rejected because her
photograph showed her bare shoulders.
Hannah Edwards's mother, Jane, was told that the exposed skin might
be considered offensive in a Muslim country. The photograph was
taken at a photo-booth at a local post office for a family trip to
the south of France.
Because of the way the camera was set up, the picture came out
showing Hannah's shoulders.
The family had it signed and presented it at a post office with the
completed form but were told that it would not be accepted by the
A woman behind the counter informed them that she was aware of at
least two other cases where applications had been rejected because a
person's shoulders were not covered.
Mrs Edwards, a Sheffield GP, said: "I was incensed. I went back
home and checked the form. Nowhere did it say anything about
covering up shoulders. If it had, I would have done so, but it all
seems so unnecessary.
"This is quite ridiculous, I followed the instructions on the
passport form to the letter and it was still rejected. It is just
officialdom pandering to political correctness.
"It is a total over-reaction. How can the shoulders of a
five-year-old girl offend anyone? It's not as if anything else was
showing, the dress she wore was sleeveless, but it has a high neck."
Hannah had her first passport when she was three months old. Her
mother and her father, Martin, realised that it was due to expire
during their holiday later this month and decided to renew it
They aimed to complete the application on Saturday, the same day
that Hannah was to be Sheffield Wednesday football team's mascot at
Hillsborough stadium. Mrs Edwards was also on call from her
After the rejection at the post office, Mrs Edwards spent two hours
taking Hannah for new pictures, filling in a new form and finding
the necessary "responsible citizens" to endorse the photos.
"The people who had signed the original application were not
available," Mrs Edwards said. "I had to chase around and eventually
found a neighbour who was a teacher to sign the pictures.
"The Passport Office should set this sort of thing out in its forms
if it is going to be so pedantic."
A spokesman for the Identity and Passport Service said it was not
its policy to reject applications with bare shoulders.
"The guidance set out on the application form doesn't include it,
this picture should have been absolutely fine," she said. "If
people follow those rules there should be no problem.
"The Post Office obviously has its rules and we can't comment on
that. We are aware of a case in the past where an error was made
involving similar circumstances, although I don't know the exact
details. Staff should be aware of the rules."
A Post Office spokesman said: "Our offices have a Passport Office
template which says what the photograph should and shouldn't be.
"Bare shoulders don't come into that at all. We can't see any
instruction to that effect so all we can do is apologise to Mrs
Edwards. It was clearly a mistake made by the clerk at the post
"It is the first time we have heard of such a rejection and we will
take it up with that particular office.
"We do around three million passport applications a year. It is one
of our most popular services and it is normally extremely effective.
"We have a much lower rejection rate compared to applications
submitted directly to the Passport Office."
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