Shamima Begum loses deprivation of citizenship appeal

The Special Immigration Appeals Commission (“SIAC”) has handed down its judgment in the appeal by Shamima Begum against the Secretary of State’s decision to deprive her of her British citizenship. Ms Begum was one of the three Bethnal Green schoolgirls who left the UK in 2015 and travelled to Syria where they aligned with ISIL. Following a series of interviews she gave to the media from a refugee camp in northern Syria in February 2019, the Secretary of State (the Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP) decided to deprive her of her British citizenship. She appealed against that decision and later applied for entry clearance to enable her to enter the UK to take part in her appeal. She had a separate appeal and judicial review against the decision to refuse to grant her entry clearance. Preliminary issues in those challenges were considered by the Supreme Court, who found in favour of the Secretary of State on all grounds in February 2021. Her substantive appeal was then heard by SIAC in November 2022. SIAC has dismissed Ms Begum’s appeal on all grounds, holding that the Secretary of State’s decision was not unlawful. On grounds 1 and 2, which related to allegations of trafficking, and which SIAC considered to be the most significant of her grounds, SIAC concluded that, whilst there was a credible suspicion that Ms Begum had been trafficked, this did not prevent the Secretary of State from exercising the deprivation power against her. David Blundell KC represented the Secretary of State for the Home Department in SIAC as well as in the earlier Supreme Court appeal, led by First Treasury Counsel, Sir James Eadie KC. SIAC’s judgment can be found here and a press summary here. Relevant reporting can be found here: BBC NewsThe GuardianITV News and Sky News (amongst others).

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