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MI5 ‘must come clean’ over Rhianan Rudd, who killed herself after being charged with terrorism at 14

Rhianan Rudd, who was the youngest girl in Britain to be charged with terrorism offences
Rhianan Rudd, who was the youngest girl in Britain to be charged with terrorism offences - CENTRAL NEWS/WEB COLLECT

MI5 has been urged to come clean over its involvement in the case of a teenage girl who killed herself after being charged with terrorism offences.

Rhianan Rudd, 16, was found hanged at a children’s home where she had been taken into care after being charged over the possession of instructions to make both firearms and explosives.

The teenager, from Bolsover, Derbyshire, who was just 14 when she was found with a guide for the 3-D printing of guns, faced charges of the “commission, preparation of instigation of an act of terrorism”.

The charges were dropped after the Home Office concluded she had been the victim of sexual exploitation by far-Right extremists.

MI5 ‘identified Rhianan as terror suspect’

Rhianan’s family has now called for MI5 to provide evidence about its role in the events leading up to her arrest for a full inquest into the teenager’s death.

Solicitors for her mother, Emily Carter, told a pre-inquest hearing on Monday that such information was vital for the inquest later this year to arrive at a full understanding of the circumstances that led to her daughter’s death.

It is understood that MI5 was involved in identifying Rhianan to the Government’s Prevent anti-radicalisation programme as being a possible terror suspect, after she reportedly came under the influence of far-Right white supremacists at the age of 14. She was the youngest girl charged with terrorism offences in the UK

The security services have so far maintained their policy of “neither confirm nor deny” (NCND) when dealing with questions over their role.

Jesse Nicholls, representing Ms Carter, argued that NCND ran counter to the need for “a thorough, unflinching investigation of the role of the state authorities in the circumstances of Rhianan’s death that ensures public exposure and holds those agencies to account for their failings”.

Mr Nicholls told Judge Alexia Durran, the deputy chief coroner, that secrecy would “undermine the purpose of the inquest, including public exposure, allaying rumour and suspicion and delivering accountability and public lesson learning”.

‘A child, with mental and physical health issues’

He added: “Such secrecy will also undermine confidence in the inquest, from both the family and the wider public. It gives the impression of cover-up and that relevant conduct is being concealed.”

Mr Nicholls added: “Rhianan was a child, with mental and physical health issues, including ASD (autism spectrum disorder), complex needs and a history of self-harm. She was groomed and sexually exploited online by far-Right extremists who posed her serious risk of harm. She was a victim of crime.

“State agencies – including MI5, counter-terror police, and Prevent – instead of helping her, investigated her as a terrorist, subjected her to a lengthy criminal investigation with the threat of prosecution and imprisonment, and failed to provide her with the support she needed.

“Her death raises multiple issues of state responsibility and wider public concern. An investigation of these issues is required to meet the public interest, to establish the substantial truth of how Rhianan died.”

Mr Nicholls added that Rhianan’s mother wanted any failings by the authorities to be identified and changes made to the way similar cases are handled, “so that other families are spared the grief and anguish that Ms Carter has suffered and continues to suffer”.

Rhianan was arrested in October 2020 and had been due to stand trial in August 2021 at Nottingham Youth Court on six terrorism charges.

Teenager was victim of trafficking

But the case was delayed and charges subsequently dropped after an intervention by the Home Office, which concluded that the teenager was a victim of trafficking. Under the modern slavery laws, a child does not have to be subjected to forced movement to be considered a trafficking victim.

Rhianan was found dead by her carer at Bluebell House in New Ollerton, near Newark, Notts, on May 19 2022.

Care home staff said they believed a white supremacist had been involved in radicalising Rhianan and that this ideology had left her troubled and “conflicted”.

Edward Pleeth, counsel to the inquest, said MI5’s stance of ‘neither confirm nor deny’ “does not inhibit full disclosure” of relevant material to the coroner’s inquiry.

Judge Durran told the hearing, sitting at the Old Bailey as Chesterfield Coroner’s Court, that she would draw up directions regarding the scope of the inquest, and related security matters in the coming weeks.