A rejected name change in a British woman’s passport has been causing a bit of a media stir lately. Most commentators seem to be taking the alleged victim’s side, but the truth is, there are certain nuances to the tale of Laura ‘Skywalker’ Matthews which should not be ignored.

The Southend 29-year-old recently tried to apply to her new passport with the signature ‘L. Skywalker’, to reflect what she herself admitted was a tongue-in-cheek tribute to her favourite fantasy series, ‘Star Wars’. The fact that her application under this signature was declined was what sparked media controversy, since Matthews herself claimed to never had had any problems with her adopted surname before. According to the Southend resident, she has signed other official documents in this manner and had no trouble having them accepted. Examples given by the subject herself include her driver’s license and bank cards.

While being demonised by the media, however, HM Passports Office has a perfectly reasonable excuse as to why the name was declined. ‘L. Skywalker’, as a signature, infringes on a copyright – something which the Office does not accept, since they believe it reflects badly on England’s standing and reputation. Furthermore, this name-change could cause problems at a national security level as well, hence why the Office decided to decline Ms Matthews’ appeal for a change. Still, as a compromise, the 29-year-old was told that she would be able to have her full name on the document; only the signature would have to be changed.

Laura Elizabeth Matthews added the ‘Skywalker’ to her name after a conversation with friends, in order to reflect her devotion to George Lucas’s series of space-opera films.

This type of situation often arises from a lack of information on the part of the applicant about the whole process of acquiring or renewing a passport. If you have doubts, questions, or need help with your application, you can call the official Passports Office hotline at 0300 222 0000. Alternatively, you can call us at 0203 600 1984, and we will be more than happy to answer any enquiries as well.

Richard Howard