RICHARD LITTLEJOHN: She’s the jihadi bride celebrity – but why must we pay to get her out of there?

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Since ISIS bride  Shamima Begum was tracked down to a Syrian refugee camp, she has become a full-blown celebrity

Since ISIS bride  Shamima Begum was tracked down to a Syrian refugee camp, she has become a full-blown celebrity

When jihadi bride Shamima Begum was tracked down to a Syrian refugee camp in February, I wrote that if everything went according to the usual script she’d be flown back to Britain on a private jet, chartered at taxpayers’ expense.

She would become a full-blown celebrity, interviewed sympathetically by the BBC and Left-wing newspapers and would probably sue the Government for compensation. On legal aid, naturally.

That column was written only partly in jest — but it’s already coming true. As the Mail revealed exclusively yesterday, lawyers acting for Begum will be granted legal aid to fight the Home Secretary’s decision to strip her of British citizenship.

Her case is now in the capable hands of superstar solicitor Gareth Peirce, who the IRA used to have on speed dial. Mrs Peirce’s clients include Julian Assange, Guantanamo Bay inmate Moazzam Begg, and members of the Guildford Four and Birmingham Six.

The decision to grant legal aid is being taken despite the fact that no such application has been received from Begum herself. Her family’s original solicitor, Tasnime Akunjee, who passed the file on to Peirce, insists normal documentation could not be provided because he was denied access to his client by the Syrian authorities.

Which is a little strange, given that news organisations appear to have no problems talking to Begum.

It has become a rite of passage for every foreign correspondent passing through the region to interview her. The media circus which surrounds Begum has turned her into a one-woman edition of I’m A Jihadi… Get Me Out Of Here!

She’s become the terrorist equivalent of Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs, who was holed up for years in Brazil. The only difference is that Ronnie Biggs desperately sought to avoid extradition. Begum says she is desperate to return ‘home’.

British jihadi Shamima Begum says she is now desperate to return 'home', and has been granted legal aid to fight the Home Secretary's decision to strip her of citizenship

British jihadi Shamima Begum says she is now desperate to return ‘home’, and has been granted legal aid to fight the Home Secretary’s decision to strip her of citizenship

In an especially bizarre twist, one reporter seeking a fresh angle even solicited her views on Brexit. (She’s just as ‘bored’ with it as the rest us.)

You couldn’t make it up.

Although she’s still stuck in a detention camp, Begum has acquired all the trappings of a modern celebrity.

She’s even got an official spokesman, Dal Babu, an ex-Met police chief superintendent, who seems to have taken on the same kind of role for the Begum family as that former BBC chap, Clarence Somebody, assumed for the parents of missing Madeleine McCann.

Babu was all over the media yesterday, pouring cold water on reports from what he called ‘unidentified sources’ that Begum, far from being an innocent abroad, had stitched suicide bombers into explosive vests and carried a Kalashnikov rifle.

Curious how her useful idiots confidently rubbish intelligence obtained from reliable national and international security sources yet gullibly swallow anything Begum herself claims.

One thing Izal mastered over the years — along with beheadings, setting fire to people in cages and throwing homosexuals off tall buildings — was propaganda.

Begum is now in the capable hands of solicitor Gareth Peirce, whose clients have included Julian Assange, Guantanamo Bay inmate Moazzam Begg, and members of the Guildford Four and Birmingham Six

Begum is now in the capable hands of solicitor Gareth Peirce, whose clients have included Julian Assange, Guantanamo Bay inmate Moazzam Begg, and members of the Guildford Four and Birmingham Six

For all we know, Begum’s protestations of being a simple caliphate wife and mother are all part of an elaborate cover story. It is further reported that she’s looking for a book deal, so no doubt literary agents will be falling over each other to represent her. Now, in Gareth Peirce, she has an A-list yuman rites brief, too.

There’s little we can do about credulous journalists and hang-wringing sympathisers anxious to paint ‘Shamima’ as the real victim in all this. If commercial news organisations and publishers want to waste their own money seeking her side of the story that’s entirely their prerogative.

But what should alarm us is the idea British taxpayers are being forced to foot the bill for her lawsuit against the Government. It could eventually cost us hundreds of thousands of pounds.

The ease with which funding is being granted by the Legal Aid Agency has rightly provoked widespread outrage, especially as more worthy applicants, such as relatives of those killed by the IRA, have been turned down flat.

Despite ‘savage cuts’ to the legal aid budget, there’s never any shortage of cash when it comes to furnishing terror suspects with the best briefs money can buy.

Lawyers acting for the two men who murdered Fusilier Lee Rigby with meat cleavers pocketed £250,000. Hate preacher and terrorist recruiting sergeant Ram Jam Choudary received £140,000.

Yes, I appreciate that everyone should be entitled to legal representation when accused, falsely or otherwise, of a crime, even if they can’t afford it.

It’s one hallmark of a civilised society. But there have to be limits.

Granting legal aid to a woman who has repeatedly said she hates Britain, and who chose to defect to a foreign terrorist state, whose acolytes have carried out atrocities on British soil is a bridge too far.

Begum joined a bloodthirsty jihadist army, which murdered British hostages, killed, raped and tortured countless civilians, and claimed responsibility for attacks in 70 cities around the world, including London and Manchester.

Leaving Begum aside for a moment, though, what this case has done is to shine a light on the legal aid system and the way it can be milked by unscrupulous lawyers.

No, I’m not including Gareth Peirce in that category. But there are endless examples of law firms getting fat on the taxpayer teat, pursuing the most undeserving cases.

For years, until he was belatedly struck off, that red-bespectacled spiv Phil Shyster and his ambulance-chasing associates raked in millions harvesting bogus claims of war crimes against brave British soldiers.

Scandalously, it turns out that not one but two firms applied to represent Begum.

How can it be right for lawyers to seek legal aid for a ‘client’ who hasn’t asked for their help and with whom they have never spoken?

Even more scandalously, the Ministry of Justice won’t tell us the identity of the unsuccessful applicants.

So, no surprise there. Nor are we permitted to know on what grounds the application is being granted. The ‘independent’ Legal Aid Agency is run by lawyers for lawyers.

When and if the Begum case does come to court, it will be held most likely behind closed doors. So much for justice being seen to be done.

Worse, it was revealed last night that Begum may not be the only Izal jihadi likely to receive financial largesse from the taxpayer. The number can’t be confirmed, but it seems inevitable that we’ll end up forking out millions to lawyers acting for those who went to Syria and Iraq to fight.

You won’t be surprised, either, to learn that Jeremy Corbyn thoroughly approves of doling out money to people facing terrorist charges.

He’s never met an enemy of Britain he didn’t like.

At this rate, expect Corbyn to be on the Tarmac at Northolt to welcome home the prodigal Shamima Begum when she is flown back here to a rock star’s reception — on a private jet, naturally, chartered at taxpayers’ expense.



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