Staff at a Home Office contractor dealing with passport applications have been suspended after a birth certificate was returned torn and with the word ‘Israel’ scribbled out.

Paris-based IT contractor Sopra Steria is under scrutiny after the birth certificate of a newborn Jewish baby was returned vandalised and torn.

The baby girl, who was born at Barnet Hospital, had her birth certificate sent off for a passport application.

The certificate bore the father’s place of birth as Israel - this detail had been crossed out by the time the certificate was returned.

The mother’s birthplace, which is also Israel, remained untouched.

The incident has sparked outrage, with Home Secretary James Cleverley confirming the suspension of some staff at Sopra Steria while the investigation is conducted.

Mr Cleverley said on X: "We apologise to the family for the offence caused and I have ordered an urgent review of a birth certificate being defaced.

"This matter is totally unacceptable.

"We will not tolerate antisemitism."

The father, whose name is also Israel, told BBC Radio 4's World at One that he and his family feel "unwelcome" in some public places.

Ham & High: The father's birth place of Israel was scribbled out on the certificateThe father's birth place of Israel was scribbled out on the certificate (Image: Campaign Against Antisemitism)

He said: "When we are walking in the city centre, when we take the kids on outings, we don't wear any Jewish outward sign, no pendants with a David star, I put hats over my kids' kippah, we're careful not to speak Hebrew.

"I would say I feel a bit unwelcome in places."

Israel lives with his wife and three children in Edgware, and had not previously hidden his faith.

When he sent off the birth certificate it was in a hard-backed envelope, however it was returned in a "regular office brown envelope" with his birth place "scribbled over".

The father-of-three added: "My first thought was that it may have been damaged in transit but the Home Office envelope is in a good condition so we understand someone had done it deliberately," he said.

He now fears for his family's safety, pointing out that "someone has all our details and this is someone from a place that should be the most secure place".

A spokesperson for the Campaign Against Antisemitism said: "The Home Secretary has rightly apologised on behalf of the department, and we have relayed that apology to the victims.

"We commend the Home Secretary for acting quickly and forthrightly following this outrageous incident."

They added: "We will be writing to Sopra Steria, which must conduct a full investigation.

"Their staff deal with some of the most sensitive information about British citizens, which demands the highest standards.

"Clearly, for someone to receive their child's birth certificate torn, with the parent’s place of birth scribbled out, just because it is the Jewish state, falls well beneath those standards.

"It is gross misconduct, and the company must remove the individual responsible."

This incident occurs amidst a surge in antisemitic offences in the UK.

Jewish security charity The Community Security Trust (CST) recorded an increase in anti-Jewish hate incidents from 1,662 in 2022, to a staggering 4,103 in 2023.