Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said today he would be ‘very uncomfortable’ if Shamima Begum successfully wins legal aid to fight the decision to strip her of UK citizenship
Jeremy Corbyn provoked fury today as he said Shamima Begum should be allowed to apply for legal aid to challenge moves to strip her of UK citizenship today.
The Labour leader insisted the Jihadi bride ‘is a British national’ despite action by the Home Secretary to bar her from the United Kingdom.
Mr Corbyn said Sajid Javid’s move to strip her of British citzenship was ‘very questionable’.
But Tory MP Andrew Bridgen said it would come as ‘no surprise’ Mr Corbyn was in favour, accusing the Labour leader of ‘consistently supporting terrorist sympathisers’.
Mr Javid’s action came after she was found in a Syrian refugee camp and said she wanted to come home.
He admitted today he could not interfere with her application for legal aid, which is based on an applicant’s entitlement to help in the courts.
Speaking on a visit to Halifax today, Mr Corbyn said: ‘She is a British national and, therefore, she has that right, like any of us do, to apply for legal aid if she has a problem. She has legal rights, just like anybody else does.
‘The whole point of legal aid is that if you’re facing a prosecution then you’re entitled to be represented and that’s a fundamental rule of law, a fundamental point in any democratic society.
‘We cannot and should not judge outside of a court.
‘A court must make that decision and every person in front of a court, whatever they’re accused of doing, how heinous or bad the crime is, is entitled to that representation.’
Mr Bridgen told MailOnline: ‘It will come as no surprise that Jeremy Corbyn is supporting someone who was stitching suicide vests onto bombers a few months ago.
‘People would not expect anything different from Jeremy Corbyn who has consistently supported terrorists and terrorist sympathisers, particularly if they are acting against our country.’
Jeremy Corbyn (pictured with Diane Abbott in Halifax today) said Shamima Begum should be allowed to apply for legal aid to challenge moves to strip her of UK citizenship today
Tory MP David TC Davies highlighted reports at the week suggesting Begum played an active part in Islamic State’s operations, sewing suicide bombers into explosive vests.
‘Given that evidence we need to do everything possible to ensure she does not come back into the UK,’ the Monmouth MP told MailOnline.
‘It’s staggering that we are now picking up legal bills for a bunch of lawyers who are going to work to get her back.
‘Jeremy Corbyn needs to work out whose side he is on. Is he on the side of the British people, or people who worked to carry out acts mayhem within our borders?’
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: ‘On a personal level, it makes me very uncomfortable because she made a series of choices and she knew the choices she was making, so I think we made decisions about her future based on those choices.
‘However, we are a country that believes that people with limited means should have access to the resources of the state if they want to challenge the decisions the state has made about them and, for obvious reasons, those decisions are made independent from politicians.’
Mr Hunt added: ‘The decision to deprive her of her citizenship was taken by a politician.
‘Obviously the decision about whether she accesses legal aid or not has to be done independently.’
Dal Babu, a former chief superintendent in the Metropolitan Police, is a friend of the family.
He told Today that Ms Begum should have legal aid to make sure the correct process is followed.
Mr Hunt (pictured today in Tokyo) said the Jihadi bride ‘knew the choices she was making’ when she flew from London to Syria aged 15
Mr Babu said: ‘Isis is a murderous organisation. They are a horrendous organisation and I don’t think anyone in their right mind would be joining that organisation.
‘She was a young woman. She was 15 when she was groomed. The police were aware of this, the counter-terrorism police were aware of this, the school she was at was aware of this, and the social workers at Tower Hamlets Council were aware of this.
‘There has been no serious case review. Normally, when a young person dies as a result of failures in safeguarding, there is a serious case review.’
Mr Babu said that, in order for a proper review to take place, Ms Begum needed to get legal aid.
‘I think legal aid is a principle of the British legal justice system. There will be people who can afford to have swanky lawyers, there will be people who have no money who are in desperate situations.’
A Legal Aid Agency spokesman said: ‘We are unable to comment on individual cases.
‘Anybody applying for legal aid in a Special Immigration Appeal Commission case is subject to strict eligibility tests.’
Home Secretary Sajid Javid (pictured today in London) stripped Begum of her citizenship after she was found in a Syrian refugee camp and said she wanted to come home
Mark Tipper, whose brother Trooper Simon Tipper was killed in the 1982 Hyde Park bombing, is among critics who have condemned the move as ‘absolutely disgusting’, according to the Daily Mail.
He was refused funding to pursue a case in the civil courts, although the decision was later reversed following public outrage.
Corey Stoughton, advocacy director at Liberty human rights group, described the granting of legal aid in this case as ‘not just appropriate but absolutely necessary to ensure that the Government’s decisions are properly scrutinised’.
She said: ‘Stripping someone of their citizenship is among the most severe punishments a government can exercise, and the evidence that this decision will render Shamima Begum effectively stateless presents a powerful argument for subjecting this case to rigorous scrutiny in court.
‘This case could have widespread repercussions for thousands of people, and more broadly for how the Government uses dramatic powers to take away fundamental rights.’