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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 September 2005, 16:45 GMT 17:45 UK
England coach granted citizenship
Duncan Fletcher (l) with England captain Michael Vaughan
Zimbabwe-born Duncan Fletcher has wanted UK citizenship for 15 years
England cricket coach Duncan Fletcher has been granted British citizenship after 15 years of trying, following intervention by the home secretary.

It is thought Charles Clarke wanted to ensure the row did not sour the success of England recapturing the Ashes from Australia after 18 years.

The Zimbabwe-born coach has twice been turned down for citizenship because of time he spends outside the UK on tour.

Mr Fletcher, 56, interrupted the Ashes celebrations to say it was "good news".

"I got it through on the phone this morning by text and that was the first I'd heard about it," he told reporters.

"I haven't really thought about what I'm going to do about living in Britain permanently at this stage.

Discretionary powers

"I'll look at it once I get back from South Africa and go to Pakistan - I'll give it some thought then, but I don't think it will make any difference to my job."

Mr Fletcher qualified as British as both his parents and all four grandparents were born in the UK.

But he had twice fallen foul of rules which demand that those applying for citizenship must have lived in Britain for five years, with absences of no more than 450 days, including three months within the past year.

Mr Fletcher's job means he tours every winter with England. This winter, for example, he will be out of the country for two months on separate tours to Pakistan and India.

A Home Office spokesman said Mr Clarke had used discretionary powers to review the case, and "it was decided Mr Fletcher deserved to be granted citizenship".

Mr Fletcher must now attend a citizenship ceremony to confirm his new status.

Earlier this month, his case was highlighted by MPs when it was revealed that the Brazilian-born boyfriend of Peter Mandelson had been granted citizenship.

Fletcher decision delights board
11 Sep 05 |  England

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