Builders with Irish connections who had worked for decades in naval bases around the Portsmouth area were being barred in a security clampdown.
With the ever-present threat of terrorist attacks, the bases’ security vetted all visitors.
But the navy caused an outcry when it refused to let two labourers who had been working in the area for years into HMS Sultan at Gosport and Portsmouth dockyard.
Builders who were Irish-born or had Irish parents were angered by the navy’s crackdown which lost them pay.
Dublin-born bricklayer Tom Blake, who had lived in Portsmouth for nearly 40 years, had worked in bases across the region without any problem.
He had always declared where he was born and agreed there needed to be security.
But zealous staff at the navy’s school of marine engineering, HMS Sultan at Gosport, questioned 64-year-old Mr Blake’s parentage, including his grandmother’s maiden name.
The father-of-six was refused entry to both the base and Portsmouth dockyard.