SIAC and the High Court have today rejected the first stage of the challenges brought by Shamima Begum against the decision to strip her of her British citizenship. Shamima 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 last year, the Secretary of State 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 has a separate appeal and judicial review against the decision to refuse to grant her entry clearance.
A four-day preliminary issues hearing took place to consider her appeals and her judicial review claim in October last year. It examined whether the decision to deprive her of her citizenship rendered her stateless; whether she is able to have a fair and effective appeal; and whether a direct and foreseeable risk of the decision (and of the refusal of entry clearance) was to place her at risk of Article 2 and 3 ECHR ill-treatment. The Chair of SIAC, Laing J, sat as a High Court Judge to hear the judicial review challenge to the entry clearance refusal in parallel with the preliminary issues hearing.
In judgments handed down today, SIAC rejected the arguments advanced on behalf of Ms Begum. The deprivation decision did not render her stateless. Although SIAC held that she could not, in her current circumstances, have a fair and effective appeal, it did not follow that her appeal succeeded. The decisions did not place her at risk of treatment contrary to Articles 2 and 3 ECHR.
David Blundell was instructed on behalf of the Secretary of State, led by Jonathan Glasson QC.