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‘Shamima Begum deserves a second chance’: Bethnal Green residents say ISIS bride, 24, would be ‘welcomed back’ – as it emerges legal bill for her bid to return to the UK has cost £5million


Residents of the London area from which Shamima Begum fled to join ISIS say she should be given a second chance at life in the UK – after she lost her latest legal battle to reclaim British citizenship.

The 24-year-old terror bride left Bethnal Green with two school friends in 2015 after being indoctrinated by the Islamic terror cell’s online propaganda.

But after she lost her latest appeal over the revocation of her British citizenship, residents of the area, part of Tower Hamlets, say the ISIS convert ‘made mistakes’ as a then-15-year-old when she decided to run away from home to Syria via Turkey. 

Experts say Ms Begum could now apply to take her claim to the Supreme Court – which could add another £2.5million to the estimated £5million taxpayer-funded legal bill her cases have run up – though her new appeal might not be accepted.

Baroness Carr, sitting with Lord Justice Bean and Lady Justice Whipple, said in a summary of the Court of Appeal’s decision: ‘Ms Begum may well have been influenced and manipulated by others but still have made a calculated decision to travel to Syria and align with Isil [Islamic State].’

Judges have unanimously rejected Shamima Begum's appeal over the removal of her British citizenship

Judges have unanimously rejected Shamima Begum’s appeal over the removal of her British citizenship

Experts said the 24-year-old terror bride could now apply to take her claim to the Supreme Court ¿ which could take the total cost of her legal challenges to more than £7.5million

Experts said the 24-year-old terror bride could now apply to take her claim to the Supreme Court – which could take the total cost of her legal challenges to more than £7.5million

Locals in Bethnal Green, from where Ms Begum ran away with school friends Kadiza Sultana – now believed dead – and Amira Abase, however, say she deserves to return to Britain to start again if she has truly renounced her extremist beliefs.

Bisher, a volunteer at the Baitul Aman mosque close to the ISIS bride’s family home, told the Telegraph: ‘She would be welcomed back. She was young, she made mistakes…I think it’s only fair that she’s given a second chance.’ 

Coffee shop customer Darcey Houston, 24, told the paper: ‘If it was someone who was white it would have been a completely different story. I think it really reinforces and shows that we’re not welcoming people.’

But boxing coach Jim Ahmed, 60, said Ms Begum was ‘old enough to know between right and wrong’ when she fled to Syria – but said she ‘deserves a second chance’ if she repents.

The Londoner was found in a Syrian refugee camp in 2019, four years after she travelled to the country as a 15-year-old, and the then-home secretary Sajid Javid stripped her of citizenship on national security grounds.

Begum lost her first appeal against the decision at the Special Immigration Appeals Commission last year.

After yesterday’s ruling, Begum’s solicitor, Daniel Furner, vowed that her legal team was ‘not going to stop fighting until she does get justice and until she is safely back home’.

But given the decision of the three judges to reject all her appeal grounds was unanimous, her prospects of successfully having her case heard at the Supreme Court appear bleak.

International law specialist Toby Cadman said: ‘I am sure that her lawyers will consider this but it is not an automatic right to be heard in the Supreme Court and the criteria is naturally very strict, so, given the decision was unanimous, it is unlikely the case would be accepted.’

If Begum loses a Supreme Court appeal she could then apply to the European Court of Human Rights, but Mr Cadman said her chances of success in Strasbourg are even slimmer.

Begum’s legal challenges are thought to have cost the taxpayer about £5million already, and if her case ever reached the Supreme Court, this figure could soar to more than £7.5million, according to legal costs expert Paul Fulcher.

‘Some KCs at this level can charge up to £10,000 a day,’ Mr Fulcher said.

‘And they are not on their own; they have a team of solicitors, so we could estimate costs will be at least another £2million to mount another challenge and for the Government to defend it. So the fees will become astronomical, upwards of £7.5million in total.’

Begum could now apply for her case to be heard by the Supreme Court. Pictured: Gareth Pierce outside the High Court in London

Begum could now apply for her case to be heard by the Supreme Court. Pictured: Gareth Pierce outside the High Court in London

Begum has been living in a Kurdish-run refugee camp in north-east Syria since the fall of the caliphate. Yesterday’s ruling was welcomed by the Home Office and Downing Street, which said decisions about the deprivation of citizenship were never taken lightly.

A Home Office spokesman said: ‘Our priority remains maintaining the safety and security of the UK and we will robustly defend any decision made in doing so.’

But former Brexit secretary David Davis accused the Government of shirking its obligations to Begum, who was 15 when she left Britain. ‘Shamima Begum is British, and should be repatriated along with all our other nationals detained without charge or trial in north-east Syria, to face British justice, where appropriate,’ he said.

He added: ‘Our international allies recognised this as the only sensible solution long ago – the Government must finally take responsibility and abandon its failed policy.’

US officials have previously warned that the British stance harms international efforts to combat terrorism.



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