A FAMILY is stranded thousands of miles from home in the Indian Ocean because of a UK passport backlog.

Three years ago Sarah Dawber, her husband Paul and son Christian went to live in Mauritius when they took up posts with a pharmaceutical company.

Sarah, 37, has been working as a quality assurance officer and Paul, 43, is employed in IT at the same company.

The problem arose earlier this year following the birth last October in Mauritius of the Dawbers’ daughter Esme.

Since February they have been tied up with red tape in a situation which Sarah’s brother Nigel described to the Star as “a passport fiasco”.

Nigel said the family’s plight followed a passport application for baby Esme.

“They live in probably one of the most beautiful places in the world but she just wants to be back home,” he said.

For months the family have effectively been grounded in Mauritius because they had to send their passports over to the UK as part of the application process.

The situation has worsened because Sarah has been offered a new job in England but needs her passport to prove UK citizenship to the company within three weeks in order to start the job by mid-August.

Sarah said: “Without a passport we are unable to make an application for Esme’s Resident Permit in Mauritius and as such technically she has no leave to remain in Mauritius legally.

“I’m unable to confirm my starting date to the company who have made me a job offer as we do not know when we may receive the passport.

“This could cost me the job and leave us in a financially destructive situation not to mention the emotional stress.

“HM British Passport Services have had this application for 17 weeks and they are clearly unwilling to provide a timeline as to when we can expect this passport. I am astounded it can have no accountability.”

Her Majesty’s Passport Office (HMPO) says it is dealing with the highest demand for passports in 12 years and has issued more than three million so far this year.

A spokesman said: “Since January, HMPO has been putting steps in place to deal with the extra demand and the overwhelming majority of people continue to receive their new passports within three or four weeks.

“But recognising people’s understandable concerns about delays, the Home Secretary said she is determined to do everything possible, while maintaining the security of the passport, to speed up the system.”