The Home Office has appealed a tribunal ruling that allowed Lisa Smith, a former Irish soldier who had joined the ISIS terrorist group, to enter the UK. Smith, 41, had been found guilty of ISIS membership in May 2020 after a nine-week trial at Dublin’s Special Criminal Court. Before her conviction, a Home Office-issued exclusion order had prevented her from entering the UK from December 2019 on the grounds of public security.
Smith, a convert to Islam, had gone to Syria in 2015 after terrorist leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi called on Muslims to travel there and support ISIS. She was born in Ireland and due to her parents being unmarried at the time, she missed out on automatic British citizenship. Her lawyers argued that she is not responsible for this “accident of birth” and is entitled to be treated as a British citizen under the European Convention on Human Rights.
At a hearing in London on Tuesday, Cathryn McGahey KC, representing the Home Secretary, said: “The Secretary of State’s case is: You are a non-citizen. We wish to exclude you because you pose a danger to national security and we can do that because you are a foreign national. We accept that you have the right to apply to be a British national.”
McGahey argued that Smith “seeks a right that … is available only to a British citizen not to a class of persons entitled to be treated as though they were British citizens.” Hugh Southey KC, representing Smith, said the Home Office’s appeal should be dismissed and the SIAC decision “contains no error of law.” He argued there was “no justification for the stark differential and less favourable treatment” of Smith “based solely on an accident of birth for which she is not responsible.”
Lord Justice Underhill, Lord Justice Lewis and Lady Justice Elizabeth Laing will give their ruling on the case at a later date.