Shamima Begum joined ISIS back in 2015 when she was 15-years-old and was stripped of her citizenship in earlier this year after she was found in a Syrian refugee camp. Speaking on BBC’s Today programme, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the Legal Aid Agency’s decision to assist Ms Begum made him “very uncomfortable”. Speaking on his LBC show, Nick Ferrari raged at the decision insisting Ms Begum was “not just some innocent party over there”.
He said: “How the hell can this be then? This young woman and there are now laws in place, decides to go off and aid and assist enemies of this country.
“People who, in a way, have helped facilitate bombs and murder of children and others in this country. This woman is effectively a cheerleader for it, she goes off to be a bride.”
He added: “She’s not just some innocent party over there, she’s helping make and stitch bombers into suicide vests.
“And now it’s all gone wrong she wants to come home, and a legal team applies for legal aid, your taxes and my taxes, to defend this woman and they haven’t even met her.
“How corrupt or palpably wrong is a system that affords thousands of pounds of our cash when the lawyers haven’t even met her.”
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, the Foreign Secretary said the decision made him “very uncomfortable”.
Mr 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.”
Legal aid is funded by the taxpayer to those who cannot afford legal representation themselves, whether they are accused of a crime or a victim seeking the help of a lawyer through the court process.
Dal Babu, a former chief superintendent in the Metropolitan Police, told Today that Ms Begum should have legal aid to make sure the correct process is followed.
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.
He said: ”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.”
In February, Ms Begum said that she wanted to return home to the UK with her new-born child.
Shortly after her child died of pneumonia at less than three weeks of age. Ms Begum said she had previously lost two other children.
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.”