Begum's return is a 'profound mistake which will have security ramifications'

17 July 2020, 07:49 | Updated: 17 July 2020, 10:19

EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

A former counter-terror chief has told LBC bringing Shamima Begum back to the UK is a "profound mistake" but that she will be arrested on her return.

Richard Walton, a former head of the Met Police Counter Terror Command has told LBC he thinks the Court of Appeal has made a "profound mistake which will have serious ramifications for our security and set a dangerous precedent" in allowing Isis bride Shamima Begum back into the UK.

On Thursday senior judges said Ms Begum - one of three east London schoolgirls who travelled to Syria to join the so-called Islamic State group (IS) - should be allowed to return to the UK to fight the decision to remove her British citizenship.

Mr Walton says he thought the Supreme Court would overturn the decision, and if that did not happen then there would be "corrective legislation."

The former top terrorism officer branded the court decision "alarming" to see the judges "take over the Home Secretary's decision for deciding who should be allowed to enter the UK."

Sajid Javid, the then-Home Secretary who revoked Ms Begum's citizenship on national security grounds, said he was "deeply concerned" by the judgment.

Begum - one of three east London schoolgirls who travelled to Syria to join the so-called Islamic State group (IS)
Begum - one of three east London schoolgirls who travelled to Syria to join the so-called Islamic State group (IS). Picture: PA

When LBC's Tom Swarbrick asked the counter-terror expert what kind of security problems it would pose that former Isis members were allowed back into the country, Mr Walton said it was "highly likely" Begum would be arrested.

He said there could be problems collecting evidence of any crimes she may have committed, "it's almost impossible to gather sufficient evidence of serious terrorist offence from warzones."

Mr Walton said he imagined she would be charged with lesser terror offences.

"That then presents an ongoing problem as to how you mitigate the risk of her when she's actually released," he told LBC.

"It would be good if we had a workable law of treason on the books, which someone like Begum might be charged with," Mr Walton said.

Watch the whole insightful call from an expert in the field of counter-terrorism in the video at the top of the page.

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