The Supreme Court has ruled that Shamima Begum should not be allowed to return to the UK to fight for her citizenship to be restored.
Its members unanimously overruled a decision by the Court of Appeal that said she would not be able to make an effective appeal from the camp in northern Syria where she is currently living.
The Home Office had appealed against the decision on the grounds that allowing her to return would create “significant national security risks”.
The Supreme Court agreed:
Lord Reed said: “The Supreme Court unanimously allows all of the home secretary’s appeals and dismisses Ms Begum’s cross-appeal.”
He said the Court of Appeal’s judgment “did not give the home secretary’s assessment the respect which it should have received” given the role’s “responsibility for making such assessments” and accountability to parliament.
Lord Reed added the Court of Appeal had “mistakenly believed that, when an individual’s right to have a fair hearing… came into conflict with the requirements of national security, her right to a fair hearing must prevail.”
He said the right to a fair hearing did “not trump all other considerations, such as the safety of the public”.
Ms Begum has proved extremely divisive among some members of the UK community.
She was enticed abroad to join Islamic State, aged just 15, and married a Dutch IS fighter – with whom she had three children. They have all died.
After IS largely collapsed, she found herself in a refugee camp and appealed for the UK’s government to return her to this country, so she could rely on the National Health Service to care for her and her last child, before that child died.
But then-Home Secretary Sajid Javid instead stripped her of her UK citizenship, citing the by-then-20-year-old’s still-apparent enthusiasm for the bloodthirsty regime she fled the country to join.
Some said she had been groomed and did not know what she was doing; some said she knew exactly what she was about.
The Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC), a semi-secret court that hears national security cases, ruled that Mr Javid was right and Ms Begum could appeal for citizenship to Bangladesh, to which she may have a claim to nationality through her mother.
The Court of Appeal overruled that judgement and now the Supreme Court has reversed that decision.
Some are now saying that Ms Begum is now in legal limbo. She isn’t – she can still make her appeal from Syria, using lawyers in the UK.
But is that a reasonable course of action? Let’s have a poll:
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