The 20-year-old woman left the UK in 2015 and lived under Islamic State rule for over three years before she was located in a refugee camp
Senior judges have ruled that Shamima Begum, who is one of three east London schoolgirls to travel to Syria to become members of the so-called Islamic State, should be permitted to return to the United Kingdom to challenge the removal of her British citizenship.
The 20-year-old woman left the UK in February 2015 and lived under IS rule for over three years before she was later found in a refugee camp in February last year, when she was nine months pregnant.
Sajid Javid, the home secretary at the time, revoked her British citizenship on national security grounds later that month.
This comes after Boris Johnson has indicated at PMQs that he has not yet read the government-commissioned report that sets out urgent measures required to prepare for the potential of a second wave of COVID-19 pandemic, telling the Commons that he was only “aware” of it.
Begum said she left Raqqa in the January of 2017 with her husband, after her children, three-month-old boy and a one-year-old girl, had both died. Her third child called Jarrah, also died, not long after he was born last year.
Shamima Begum took legal action against the Home Office, claiming that the government’s decision was unlawful as it left her stateless and exposed her to a real risk of death and potentially inhuman and degrading circumstances.
In February, the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC), which is a specialist tribunal that hears challenges to decisions to remove someone’s British citizenship on the grounds of national security, ruled that the decision of the Home Office was indeed lawful as Ms Begum was “a citizen of Bangladesh by descent” at the time of the action.
The tribunal also found that she “cannot play any meaningful part in her appeal and that, to that extent, the appeal will not be fair and effective”, but ruled that “it does not follow that her appeal succeeds”.
The Court of Appeal has now ruled that “the only way in which she can have a fair and effective appeal is to be permitted to come into the United Kingdom to pursue her appeal”.
Lord Justice Flaux – sitting with Lady Justice King and Lord Justice Singh – said: “Fairness and justice must, on the facts of this case, outweigh the national security concerns, so that the leave to enter appeals should be allowed.”
The judge found that:
“the national security concerns about her could be addressed and managed if she returns to the United Kingdom”.
In its ruling, the court said: “If the Security Service and the Director of Public Prosecutions consider that the evidence and public interest tests for a prosecution for terrorist offences are met, she could be arrested and charged upon her arrival in the United Kingdom and remanded in custody pending trial.”
Mr Hancock made these comments as he was setting out the government’s plan to make the wearing of face coverings compulsory in shops and supermarkets in England from the 24th of July.