THE family of a dead child whose identity was stolen by canoe conman John Darwin are fighting for a change in the system for issuing birth certificates.
The back-from-the-dead fraudster used the birth certificate of John Jones – a baby boy born in Sunderland five months before him, but who died at just 34 days old – to obtain a passport after faking his own death in a life insurance scam.
Now two of John’s surviving siblings, Alf Jones and Freda Woods, want the Government to give parents the right to have the birth certificates of dead babies marked to help prevent identity theft.
Their campaign has reached Government ministers – and even the Prime Minister’s wife, Samantha Cameron.
“It’s a simple change and it could be done now,” said Alf, from Pallion, who works in construction. “Why would anyone want to apply for a dead baby’s birth certificate?
“The only reason they would want it is because they are up to no good.”
He added: “You ask how many dead children’s birth certificates have been sold, they don’t know. They don’t keep a record.
“We don’t know how many people there are going round with stolen identities.
“We thought you had to rifle through skips to do this, but you can go to the civic centre and buy it for £9 – buy it like you would buy a loaf of bread.
“Identity fraud costs £1.9billion a year.”
Alf, 53, and Freda, 58, from Grangetown, branded Darwin a “grave robber” for using their late brother’s identity to travel freely and buy property in Panama.
The siblings have been pressing for changes to the birth and death registration system to stop other fraudsters using the same system.
They have taken up the issue with MPs and wrote to Samantha Cameron. The Camerons lost their son Ivan in 2009.
A Number 10 official wrote back to Alf, saying Mrs Cameron had no power to change Government policy.
Via Sunderland Central MP Julie Elliott, Alf and Freda also received a response from the Indentity and Passport Service chief executive and registrar, Sarah Rapson, pointing out alleged difficulties in changing the system.
She said registrars in different sub-districts would not be able to cross-check birth and death certificates, and the deceased could have been born overseas.
Ms Rapson said the agency realised the situation was “not ideal” and said it was developing proposals regarding access to registration records, but without a change in the law the options were limited.
Freda and Alf rejected claims it was too difficult to change the system.