• Robert Spicer

Shamima Begum: Supreme Court decision

British citizenship

Deprivation decision

Case R (on the application of Begum) v Special Immigration Appeals Commission and Others [2021] UKSC 7

Facts In February 2019 the Home Secretary notified Shamima Begum (B) that he intended to deprive her of her British citizenship (the deprivation decision). The reason for this was that B had dual British and Bangladeshi citizenship and had travelled to Syria and aligned with ISIL. Her return to the UK would present a risk to national security. This decision was taken partly on information which should not be made public in the interests of national security.

B was and is still held at a camp in Syria. In May 2019 she applied for leave to enter the UK to appeal against the deprivation decision and to avoid the risk of mistreatment. (The LTE decision). The application was refused.

B then appealed to SIAC against the deprivation decision. The appeal was not finally determined and B applied for judicial review of SIAC’s decision that the Home Secretary had not departed from his human rights policy.

Decision 1. The Home Secretary’s appeal was allowed and B’s cross-appeal was dismissed.

2. B’s appeal against the LTE decision could only be brought on the ground that the decision was unlawful under section 6 of the Human Rights Act 1998. B did not put forward that argument and her appeal against the LTE should have been dismissed.

3. The Court of Appeal had made its own assessment of the requirements of national security. This was an error.

4. The right to a fair hearing does not trump all other considerations, for example the safety of the public. The appropriate response in present case was for the deprivation appeal to be stayed until B was in a position to play an effective part in it without the safety of the public being compromised.

5. The Court of Appeal had mistakenly treated the Home Secretary’s human rights policy as if it were a rule of law. The Home Secretary was not satisfied that depriving B of British citizenship would expose her to a real risk of mistreatment.

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