Lord Robert Reed, President of the Supreme Court, said the UK Court of Appeal made four mistakes last year in deciding that Begum should be allowed to return to the UK to carry out his appeal.
Begum was 15 years old when he left the UK in 2015 with two school friends to join ISIS in Syria. Sajid Javid, then Home Secretary, was deprived of his British citizenship on 19 February 2019 after being discovered in a refugee camp in northern Syria.
According to Reed, the appellate court erred in holding that Begum’s right to a fair trial should take precedence over other competing rights.
“The right to a fair hearing does not eliminate all other aspects, such as public safety,” Reed said.
The UK Court of Appeal ruled last year that Begum should be granted permission to enter the UK because of his appeal, otherwise there would be no “fair and effective trial”.
Reed added that the Court of Appeal did not give the Home Secretary an assessment of the requirements for entry into the UK “the respect he deserves”, adding that the court “despite the lack of relevant evidence” “assessed the requirements itself”.
The Supreme Court also ruled that Begum’s appeal against the revocation of UK citizenship should be “adjourned” until he could participate without “endangering public safety”.
According to Reed, Begum is currently being held in a Syrian camp. This is “not a perfect solution, as it is not known how long it will take before it is possible,” he said.
“There is no perfect solution to the current dilemma,” Reed added.
The decision to revoke Begum’s citizenship was put under fire by both human rights campaigners and legal experts, who claim that the revocation made him stateless and jeopardized his right to a fair appeal.