Ex-soldier accused of IS membership wins appeal against UK entry ban

·2-min read
Lisa Smith court case
Lisa Smith at a previous court appearance in Dublin (Brian Lawless/PA)

A former Irish Defence Forces member accused of membership of so-called Islamic State (IS) has won an appeal against a ban on her entering the UK.

Lisa Smith, from Co Louth, had been the subject of a Home Office-issued exclusion order since December 2019.

The order was made on the grounds of public security.

Smith, 39, is charged with membership of the IS terror group and funding terrorism. She denies the charges.

She is currently on bail in Ireland ahead of a scheduled trial in the country’s Special Criminal Court next January.

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Smith’s father is originally from Belfast and her case against the Home Office hinged on whether she was entitled to enter the UK as a consequence of that fact.

Both sides in the case before the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) accepted that the UK had a legal right to exclude non-British citizens from EEA (European Economic Area) countries, including Ireland.

However, that right does not cover those of dual nationality and Smith’s legal team argued she was entitled to the rights of a dual national as a consequence of her father’s birthplace.

The case involved argument on the nationality rights conferred under the 1998 Good Friday Agreement and differences in how the law treats married and unmarried parents, given Smith’s father was not married to her mother when she was born.

In a written judgment on Friday, the SIAC allowed Smith’s appeal against the exclusion order.

Stardust nightclub fire
Solicitor Darragh Mackin (Niall Carson/PA)

Her solicitor Darragh Mackin, from Phoenix Law, welcomed the decision.

“Today’s ruling is hugely significant for the upholding of basic human rights principles, which include the right to be free from discrimination,” he said.

“The decision to exclude our client was discriminatory and contrary to the basic principles underpinning the Good Friday Agreement.

“As an Irish citizen who resides in a border town, it was always asserted that to restrict her from travelling across the border was unlawful and could not be stood over.

“We warmly welcome the court’s determination today which will now reinstate our client’s basic rights to travel to the North of Ireland at her convenience.”

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