This is an important blog post. Please distribute it widely.
My legal information is sourced from the UK Border Agency, specifically their caseworking instructions for all issues arising under The British Nationality Act of 1981. This piece of legislation has formed the basis of British nationality law since coming into force on 1 January 1983 and the caseworking instructions derived from it are the guidelines Border Agency employees refer to on a day-to-day basis when deciding who is entitled to British citizenship. This is an absolutely authoritative source.
Bradley Manning is a UK citizen by virtue of his mother’s nationality. He holds both US and UK citizenship.
Bradley Manning was born in the United States on 17 December 1987, the son of Brian and Susan Manning. As the son of an American father, born on US soil, Bradley Manning has held US citizenship since birth.
Bradley’s parents met in Wales and Susan Manning has been described as ‘Welsh’ or hailing from Wales repeatedly in the mainstream media, including outlets with self-proclaimed fact-checking operations.
Susan Manning is, beyond any reasonable doubt, a UK citizen. As far as we know she was born in the UK and is therefore not a ‘UK citizen by descent’. In law she is a UK citizen “otherwise than by descent”.
I would now like to refer you Chapter 20 of the caseworking instructions for the Nationality Act of 1981. This is, remember, the working reference guide that British civil servants use every day to determine who qualifies for UK citizenship. Chapter 20 explains what rules govern the transmission of UK citizenship to children born abroad and is the crucial reference that resolves the issue of Bradley Manning’s citizenship status. We will take this step-by-step to avoid any possible confusion.
20.1.1 Every person who is a British citizen is so either “by descent” or “otherwise
than by descent”.
20.1.2 The distinction between the two affects a British citizen’s ability to transmit
that citizenship to children born abroad. It does not affect any of the other
rights or duties that go with British citizenship.
20.1.3 British citizens by descent cannot transmit their citizenship to children born
abroad except in the circumstances described in Chapter 4. British citizens
otherwise than by descent automatically transmit their citizenship to children
20.1.4 As a general principle, people are British citizens otherwise than by descent
if they are British citizens:
• by birth, adoption, registration or naturalisation in the United Kingdom
or the Falkland Islands before 21 May 2002; or…
My working assumption is that Susan Manning was born in the United Kingdom. Hence she is a British citizen otherwise than by descent (20.1.4) and “British citizens otherwise than by descent automatically transmit their citizenship to children born abroad.” (20.1.3)
20.1.5 People who are British citizens by birth or other means elsewhere are British
citizens by descent.
A child born to a British citizen outside the UK or its overseas territories is a British citizen by descent. Bradley Manning is therefore a British citizen by descent. (20.1.5)
The issue of Bradley Manning’s dual citizenship has been the subject of some controversy and much disinformation but the situation is in fact straightforward: unless Bradley’s mother was born outside the UK, her son has also been a UK citizen automatically since birth. We will confirm that Susan Manning was born in this country as quickly as possible. At that point, I will seek to update the Bradley Manning wikipedia article, backed up with the proper evidence, and we will be able to put this issue to bed once and for all.
Big thanks to @danhind who was indispensable in putting this together.