A former soldier who changed his surname to ‘Fu-Kennard’ for a laugh has told how the joke has backfired – after he was denied a passport because his new surname is too offensive to be printed on any travel document.
The 33-year-old used to be ‘Kenny Kennard’, but changed his name using a deed poll in 2016 and even got a driving license under his new moniker.
But when his UK passport expired and he applied for a new one this year, his application was denied because his name “may cause offence”.
The supermarket worker has contested HM Passport Office’s verdict three times- but the Home Office has refused to give him new travel documents.
“I’d decided to change my name to Fu-Kennard a few years back,” he told The Mirror.
“When I had to apply for a driving licence, it was accepted fine, so I figured it wouldn’t make much difference in applying for a passport. How wrong I was.
“I got refused on grounds that my name could cause offence or was vulgar.
“So I complained, but they upheld their decision, so I complained again. I was then told they’d keep the fee for administration costs.
“If I wanted to take the matter further, they said I’d need to contact my MP.
“So I wrote to MP Scott Mann, and he replied saying they’re within their remit to refuse.”
Mr Fu-Kennard said he was shocked that people would take his name as more than a joke, and the verdict made him feel like a prisoner in his own homeland.
“Now I’m skint with no passport, like a prisoner in my own country,” he said.
“On the one hand, I find the whole thing funny — as do all of my friends. But I’m also finding it hard to believe the name could be construed as anything but funny and slightly ridiculous. It’s just a joke. Fu-Kennard’ is not offensive, and I object to them denying my chosen name.”
Home Office official guidelines list a series of “names that may cause outrage or offence” that could be classed as “unacceptable” and not fit for a passport.
They include: “the use of swear words; sexually explicit references; inappropriate religious connotation; is vulgar, offensive, or libellous to an individual; makes use of a name of a person living or dead which may cause public concern”.
The guidance also states: “This applies to phonetic, as well as actual use of words comprising of part or the entire name.”
Kenny, who loves to travel and last went on holiday to Sri Lanka months before his passport expired, now can’t holiday abroad.
“There are so many countries I’d still like to visit, such as Cambodia,” Kenny said.
“For my next leave, I have no plans as my options are limited. I have a stag do in three weeks, for instance. When the best man was deciding what to do for it, he knew I couldn’t travel – so he settled on Cardiff instead.
“I don’t know what else I can do to escalate the situation with HM Passport Office, because no one has advised me how else I can challenge the verdict.
“I only have one red line, though – I’m keeping my surname. I don’t want to change it again, especially because they’re restricting my freedom. I like Fu-Kennard.”
It’s not the first time the 33-year-old has changed his name. When he was 16, he became “Coco Kenny”, but after joining the army and wanting to be taken seriously, he had to change it to something more sensible.
But after eight years with the military, he was able to change his name again, deciding on something with a bit of “fun” to it.
“Life’s too short to be boring,” he said, noting he went with “Fu-Kennard” because “not everyone gets the joke”.