Supreme Court’s Judgment on Shamima Begum

Learn about the Supreme Court's decision on a highly controversial case involving the Home Secretary, the SIAC and leading Human Rights lawyers.

Published on 31 March 2021
Written by Sam Williamson
Sam Williamson

The Supreme Court’s judgment in the Shamima Begum case has sent shockwaves through the legal and political world. It will likely be recorded as one of the most significant cases in the human rights and public law field in recent years.  

Who is Shamima Begum?

Ms Begum was born in the United Kingdom and when she was 15, travelled to Syria in February 2015 with two of her school friends to support the Islamic State Group and has remained there ever since. 21 now, Ms Begum attempted to return to the UK.  

The decision of the Supreme Court and the fallout

The Supreme Court considered three appeals originating from the Special Immigration Appeals Commision and judicial review challenges against the Home Secretary’s decision to deprive Shamima Begum of her citizenship and not to allow her to travel to the UK to stand trial. The Court reached a unanimous decision in favour of the UK Government in all appeals.  

The matter has already attracted vast quantities of controversy and debate from across the political spectrum. Champions of the rule of law may warn against harsh criticism of the judges themselves, who were asked to consider legal questions concerning the powers of the Home Secretary, and not the ethics of citizenship deprivation. 

Top Human Rights Lawyers involved in the case

For any keen watcher of public law and human rights act challenges, this case proved to be another clash of the titans. Barristers from the leading public law set Blackstone Chambers were once again out in force, supplying three out of the eight counsel acting for core participants in the case, as well as an additional junior who represented an intervener. 

Chambers with key counsel in Shamima Begum's case
Chambers with key counsel in Shamima Begum's Supreme Court case

Leading lawyers David Pannick QC and Tom Hickman QC (winner of the Human Rights and Public Law Award at the Chambers UK Bar Awards 2020) led Shamima Begum’s legal team and were assisted by Jessica Jones of Matrix Chambers.  

The Government’s successful case was argued by star silk and Treasury Devil Sir James Eadie QC, who led Jonathan Glasson QC of Matrix Chambers and David Blundell QC of Landmark Chambers. This is just another addition to Eadie’s remarkable tally of successful appearances for the government in their most significant legal cases. Our analysis of judicial review appearances shows that in 2019-20 he represented the government in 23% of challenges it successfully resisted in court. Read the full article here as we reveal the most successful public law barristers. 

2019-2020 Winning lead counsel for the government in judicial reviews
Winning lead counsel for the government in judicial reviews 2019-2020

Matrix Chambers was also well represented amongst counsel for both core parties and interveners. Closed material was presented by special advocates Angus McCullough QC of 1 Crown Office Row and Adam Straw of Doughty Street Chambers

Please view our Administrative & Public Law and Civil Liberties/Human Rights rankings and read our editorial to discover more about these top barristers and many others. 

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