Witness protection: I'm the hero but have been left with no identity – BBC

A man who moved to Scotland while under Spanish witness protection is taking legal action against the UK Home Office after being left without an identity.
The father arrived in Scotland in 2019 with his wife and daughter, all living under assumed identities.
He claims he provided crucial testimony in a Europol investigation that brought down a drug and gun smuggling crime gang that were based in Spain but operating across Europe.
He is in the north east of Scotland.
Two years after arriving in Scotland – amid Brexit and their application to remain in the UK under the EU Settlement Scheme – Spanish authorities revoked the family's protected identities.
Since then, lawyers and politicians working on their behalf have attempted to secure their right to remain in the UK.
Meanwhile, the family has been left in limbo.
Without identities they have no ability to work and struggle to access benefits.
Without passports they are unable to leave the UK.
Speaking to BBC Scotland, the father said he had been extremely hopeful when he arrived.
"I truly believed that the system, justice, government in the UK would support our case and our family because I've done so much," he said.
"I was thinking, I'm the hero. I removed drugs, I removed guns, I removed the bad people from the street.
"So someone would look after us."
The father claims he and his wife had to give up a good business and lifestyle in Spain when they entered witness protection.
Their protected status was valid for the EU and they were informed it would be safer for them if they were to leave Spain.
After failing to settle in the Netherlands, the family decided to begin their new lives in rural Scotland.
When the Spanish authorities revoked their new identities, he said everything was taken from them again.
"They killed me a second time," he said. "They took my life from me."
Under the Spanish witness protection detail, their new identities had to be renewed every six months.
The father claims the family fought with Spanish authorities for years to make their new identities more robust.
He says they were not given a birth certificate for their daughter and struggled to register her in school.
With the relationship strained and the prosecution of the smuggling gang finished, Spain decided to cut ties.
The identity the family had begun their Home Office application with was now considered "lost or stolen".
Frustrated and angry, the father blames the UK government for failing to sort out his visa situation for nearly two years.
He said: "The British government don't recognise the huge matter of the case.
"We are not illegal immigrants, we did not cross the border illegally."
The ongoing situation has left the family struggling to survive in the present and unable to plan for the future.
"They keep us in this type of isolation. It is like some kind of prison sentence," he said.
"We are sitting in our council property for nearly two years without any friends, without any social life.
"My life is not in my hands anymore. Someone sitting in London decides about my future, the future of my wife, of my daughter.
"I'm healthy, I would like to work, I would like to support my family – but I cannot."
Now a Glasgow law firm working on the case is seeking a Judicial Review over the Home Office's handling of the family's application to remain.
They claim the Home Office has failed to apply its own policy in its failure to issue a residence permit in the family's new identity.
The lawyers believe this to be their legal identity in Scotland.
The BBC also understands that the Home Office would prefer to issue residence status under the family's former identities – despite those names still posing a risk to their safety.
A solicitor at the Glasgow law firm said: "Essentially we are challenging the Home Office on the failure to issue the cards in the new identity.
"But what is making the whole thing particularly egregious for my client is the time taken by the Home Office to even get to this stage.
"It is a form of mental torture for him being stuck in this limbo."
The lawyers have sought an anonymity order while raising their petition at the Court of Session.
The BBC has also agreed not to name the family.
MP Richard Thomson has been highlighting the family's ordeal for two years, corresponding with senior members of the Home Office.
The SNP MP for Gordon believes the Home Office has failed to understand or deal with the complexities of the case.
"We've basically been running into what seems to be an immovable brick wall about this," he said.
"Nobody in the ranks of officialdom knows how to deal with this."
Mr Thomson added that the family's status was hindering their ability to access funds to support themselves.
"They've been in a fairly grim cycle of every three months finding a benefit to which they are entitled has been suddenly removed," he said.
"The time has come where it really does need to be taken out of the system and dealt with by some ministerial direction."
The Home Office said it would not comment on ongoing legal proceedings or individual cases.
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