Sealand says no to asylum

ASYLUM seekers hoping to start a new life on the independent mini-state of Sealand will not be made welcome, according to the rulers of the principality.

ASYLUM seekers hoping to start a new life on the independent mini-state of Sealand will not be made welcome, according to the rulers of the principality.

Prince of Sealand, Major Roy Bates, and his son, Prince Regent Michael Bates, today said asylum seekers will not be given refuge on the 550sq m former war-time fort, which stands seven miles off Felixstowe.

There have been claims in the media that refugees not granted rights to stay in England could be given a place to stay within sight of its shores on the tiny country.

But a spokesman for Sealand said no-one was allowed to set foot on the mini-state without a visa under principality law.

He said: “Our application list for general visas has been suspended for some years and remains suspended; this is to protect our citizens and residents here and is strictly enforced.

“The principality has not and does not intend to permit or to grant to any persons visitation rights or residence without previous extensive security and legal checks.

Most Read

“Persons who are stateless or who seek residence here in an attempt to evade legal process in other states are not considered to be those who normally would qualify as asylum candidates and any application from such persons will be disallowed.

“Assertions or claims in the media relating to asylum residence of various persons are wholly without substance, appear to have originated from sources of fantasy, and should be disregarded.”

The right to rule Sealand, this year celebrating its 40th anniversary, is currently up for sale for more than £65million.

Major Bates and his family are looking to transfer their tenancy to someone else, although they would still keep ownership.

Any new rulers would have to continue to run the country under the same principles but would be able to live there.

The former war-time fort is always occupied by some Sealanders or members of the country's security service, and also an internet company which uses it as a base for its servers.

There has been speculation for several years about whether the Bates family might one day sell - perhaps as an island home or recording studio for a wealthy rock star - but they have insisted Sealand is a sovereign country and not up for sale.

n Would you like to live on Sealand? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

Factfile: Sealand

Sealand was built as a North Sea war-time fort called Roughs Tower in 1941 at a cost of £1m.

Its two 70ft concrete towers weigh 4,500 tons and contain seven storeys of living quarters.

Visible from Felixstowe seafront, it was used for pirate radio stations in the 1960s.

In 1967, Roy Bates, now 82, a wealthy businessman and former 8th Army Royal Fusiliers major, and his wife Joan, a former beauty queen, declared it as the sovereign state of Sealand.

It has its only currency, flag, stamps, national anthem, constitution and laws.

Over the past four decades the weather-beaten structure has been the scene of many colourful incidents and its history is as chequered as any of the most volatile hot spots around the world.

There have been at least seven attempts by raiders to try to seize it from the Bates family with petrol bombs, shotguns and hand-to-hand fighting.

One German man was even imprisoned for seven weeks before receiving a royal pardon, and in the 1990s there was considerable concern after Interpol found forged Sealand passports being used to launder money from drug smuggling.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter