Shamima Begum loses deprivation of citizenship appeal

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The Court of Appeal (Lady Carr CJ, Bean and Whipple LJJ) 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. The Court rejected the appeal on all grounds, upholding the decision of the Special Immigration Appeals Commission in favour of the Secretary of State.

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 dismissed the appeal in February 2023. The Court of Appeal heard Ms Begum’s appeal in October 2023.

Ms Begum advanced 5 grounds of appeal: trafficking (Art 4 ECHR), trafficking (common law), de facto statelessness, procedural fairness (no opportunity to make prior representations) and breach of the PSED.

The Court of Appeal has dismissed Ms Begum’s appeal on all grounds, holding that the Secretary of State’s decision was not unlawful. It also accepted arguments advanced on behalf of the Secretary of State by way of a Respondent’s Notice in relation to prior representations and Simplex. In relation to prior representations, it has reinstated the previously understood position that there is no right to make prior representations before a deprivation decision is made.

The Court of Appeal’s judgment can be found here.

Press reports of the decision can be found on the BBC, the Guardian and Sky News.

David Blundell KC represented the Secretary of State for the Home Department in the Court of Appeal, as well as in the earlier Supreme Court appeal, led by First Treasury Counsel, Sir James Eadie KC and Jonathan Glasson KC.

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