Shamima Begum’s legal battle with the Government explained

Shamima Begum, who had her British citizenship revoked after travelling to so-called Islamic State-controlled territory in Syria, has lost the latest stage of her legal battle with the Government.

Here, the PA news agency looks at Friday’s ruling and what happens next.

What was the challenge?

Ms Begum originally brought a legal bid against the Home Office over then-home secretary Sir Sajid Javid’s decision to strip her of her British citizenship on national security grounds in February 2019.

The case was heard at a specialist tribunal, the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC), sitting in central London.

Last February, members of the tribunal dismissed Ms Begum’s challenge on all grounds, with judge Mr Justice Jay finding that “reasonable people will differ” over the circumstances of Ms Begum’s case.

Following that decision, Ms Begum appealed against the SIAC’s findings at the Court of Appeal in October 2023.

Three appeal judges dismissed this appeal in a ruling on Friday.

What did the Court of Appeal decide?

In a 42-page public judgment, Lady Chief Justice Baroness Carr said the decision to deprive Ms Begum of her citizenship was lawful.

The senior judge said SIAC could lawfully find “that the issue of whether and to what extent Ms Begum’s travel to Syria had been voluntary was within the expertise of the intelligence agencies advising the Secretary of State”.

Shamima Begum legal case
Lord Chief Justice, Dame Sue Carr, during a live broadcast at the Court of Appeal, London (Screengrab/PA)

Baroness Carr, sitting with Lord Justice Bean and Lady Justice Whipple, also found Sir Sajid “was aware of the circumstances of her departure to Syria, and the likelihood that she was a child victim of others who wished to exploit her for sexual or extremist reasons” when he made the decision to remove her citizenship.

What happened before?

Friday marks another major judgment in Ms Begum’s case.

In a preliminary ruling in February 2020, the SIAC ruled the decision to deprive Ms Begum of her British citizenship was lawful as Ms Begum was “a citizen of Bangladesh by descent” at the time of the decision.

The tribunal also found that she could not “play any meaningful part in her appeal and that, to that extent, the appeal will not be fair and effective”.

Ms Begum took her case to the Court of Appeal over whether she could return to the UK for the main challenge.

After the Court of Appeal ruled that she could return to the UK in July 2020, the Home Office challenged this decision at the Supreme Court.

In February 2021, the UK’s highest court said that Ms Begum should not be granted leave to enter the UK to pursue her appeal against the deprivation of her British citizenship.

In the SIAC’s 2023 judgment, Mr Justice Jay said the Supreme Court’s ruling had “complex ramifications”.

What happens next?

The question of whether Ms Begum and her lawyers attempt to bring a Supreme Court challenge over Friday’s decision remains to be answered, with a hearing over the consequences of the ruling due in the coming weeks.

Asked outside of court whether they intend to go to the Supreme Court, Ms Begum’s lawyers said they were not sure, as they had only received the judgment on Friday morning.

Missing schoolgirls
It is not known whether Ms Begum will appeal against the decision (PA)

To appeal against the Court of Appeal’s decision, Ms Begum’s lawyers would first have to ask for the green light to go to the UK’s highest court, as there is no automatic right of challenge.

What has the Government said?

The Home Office said it is “pleased” the court has ruled against Shamima Begum.

In a statement, a spokesperson said: “We are pleased that the Court of Appeal has found in favour of our position in this case.

“Our priority remains maintaining the safety and security of the UK and we will robustly defend any decision made in doing so.”

And Downing Street also welcomed the Court of Appeal’s decision.

A No 10 spokeswoman told reporters: “We’re pleased the court has found in favour of the Government. Beyond that I would just say that our priority remains on maintaining the safety and security of the UK.

“We’ll always take the strongest possible action to protect our national security and we never take decisions around deprivation (of citizenship) lightly.”

Sir Sajid reposted a previous statement he had made about Ms Begum’s case after the SIAC’s ruling last year.

In the post from February 2023, he said: “I welcome today’s court ruling, which has again upheld my decision to remove an individual’s citizenship on national security grounds.

“This is a complex case, but home secretaries should have the power to prevent anyone entering our country who is assessed to pose a threat to it.”