ISIS bride Shamima Begum's lawyer QUITS after slamming ministers

ISIS bride Shamima Begum’s lawyer QUITS after slamming ministers for supporting UK’s closed anti-terrorism hearings

The barrister who represented ISIS bride Shamima Begum before secret anti-terror hearings has quit, accusing ministers of ‘neglecting’ the process. 

Angus McCullough KC has acted for the 24-year-old as she attempts to win back her British citizenship, which was stripped when she fled to join ISIS aged 15 in 2015. 

He has served as her special advocate – a term used to describe a barrister who represents a client in proceedings where information is being kept secret from them.

Under the system, the special advocate cannot speak to the client – or the client’s usual lawyer – after seeing the evidence due to national security concerns. 

Mr McCollough said the ‘unfairness’ of secret hearings was ‘being aggravated by sustained neglect of the special advocate system’.

Angus McCullough KC has acted for the 24-year-old as she attempts to win back her British citizenship, which was stripped when she fled to join ISIS aged 15 in 2015

He also warned over rules preventing special advocates from being able to contact their clients once evidence had been put before the court.

READ MORE – What happened to Shamima Begum and where is she now? 

Mr McCullough said the ‘basic principles of fairness and the rule of law require the unfairness associated with closed material proceedings to be minimised’.

The KC criticised ministers for not responding to an independent review of the system by Sir Duncan Ouseley, a retired High Court judge.

He wrote: ‘[Sir Duncan] made 20 recommendations in relation to steps to improve the operation of CMPs. None of these appears controversial in principle.’ 

Ms Begum has claimed to be a victim of human trafficking when she left the UK to join ISIS in Syria. 

At the Court of Appeal in London last month, her lawyers began a bid to overturn the decision to deprive her of her British citizenship, with the Home Office opposing the challenge. 

Three senior judges were told the Home Office failed to consider the legal duties owed to Ms Begum as a potential victim of trafficking or as a result of ‘state failures’ in her case. 

Ms Begum has claimed to be a victim of human trafficking when she left the UK to join ISIS in Syria

Samantha Knights KC said in written submissions: ‘The appellant’s trafficking was a mandatory, relevant consideration in determining whether it was conducive to the public good and proportionate to deprive her of citizenship, but it was not considered by the Home Office.

‘As a consequence, the deprivation decision was unlawful.’

Earlier this year, Ms Begum lost a challenge at the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC). 

Shamima Begum: From straight-A London schoolgirl to stateless jihadi bride  

Ms Begum crossed into Syria with the help of a Canadian spy named Mohammed Al Rasheed, according to reports

Shamima Begum was a London schoolgirl until Scotland Yard raised concerns she and two of her fellow pupils had travelled to Syria in February 2015.

The 24-year-old was just 15 when she travelled to Istanbul in Turkey from Gatwick Airport to join the so-called Islamic State (IS) with her close friends at Bethnal Green Academy – Kadiza Sultana, 16, and Amira Abase, 15.

Despite her family’s warnings that Syria was a ‘dangerous place’, the then teenager, described as a ‘straight A student’, crossed the border just days later with the help of a Canadian spy named Mohammed Al Rasheed, according to reports.

In a BBC podcast series, she said she was told to ‘pack nice clothes so you can dress nicely for your husband’.

Just ten days after arriving in the city of Raqqa, Ms Begum, who is of Bangladeshi heritage, was married to a Dutchman named Yago Riedijk, who had converted to Islam.

They had three children together, who all later died from malnourishment or disease. They were a one-year-old girl, a three-month-old boy and newborn son.

Ms Begum pictured with a Union Flag cushion in 2020. It was the first time she was seen without her usual black burka 

Ms Begum left Raqqa with her husband in January 2017, but they were eventually split up, as she claimed he was arrested for spying and tortured.

She was eventually found nine months pregnant in a refugee camp in Al-Hawl in February 2019 by a Times journalist.

Ms Begum told the reporter it ‘didn’t faze me at all’ when she saw her first ‘severed head’, but would ‘do anything required just to be able to come home’.

But the runaway schoolgirl said she did not regret travelling to IS-controlled Syria, saying she had a ‘good time’.

The former Metropolitan Police commissioner Dame Cressida Dick said Ms Begum could expect to be ‘spoken to’ if she returned to the UK.

In the same month, she was stripped of her British citizenship after announcing her desire to return to the UK with her then unborn third child.

The move was deemed only permissible under international law if it did not leave her stateless.

Since then, the former IS bride has been embroiled in a battle with the British legal system – she lost her latest legal challenge over the decision to deprive her of her British citizenship on Wednesday.

Ms Begum described the initial move to revoke her citizenship as ‘unjust on me and my son’.

Sajid Javid said although he would never leave an individual stateless, his priority was the ‘safety and security’ of the UK.

Kadiza Sultana – who was killed in an airstrike – and Amira Abase, whose whereabouts are unknown 

The then home secretary was criticised by Labour after Ms Begum’s son later died – with Diane Abbott describing the situation as ‘callous and inhumane’.

Ms Begum lost her first appeal to return to the UK but successfully challenged the decision at the Court of Appeal.

But the Government submitted a fresh appeal, meaning her return was put on hold pending a Supreme Court battle.

She was dealt a fresh blow when the Supreme Court ruled she could not come back to the UK – leading to her begging the British public for forgiveness.

When she appeared on TV screens in September 2021, she had drastically changed her appearance – wearing a Nike baseball cap, a grey vest, Casio watch and with her fingernails painted pink.

Ms Begum said there was ‘no evidence’ she was a key player in preparing terrorist acts and was prepared to prove her innocence in court.

She denied her Western physical appearance on Good Morning Britain – in stark contrast to the traditional Islamic dress she previously adorned – was a publicity stunt.

In the BBC podcast series released last month, she said she understood public anger towards her, but insisted she is not a ‘bad person’.

She told the podcast she accepted she is viewed ‘as a danger, as a risk’, but blamed her portrayal in the media.

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