Media By: Michael Spencer


Self-inflicted torture by proxy: inherently unlikely

15 March 2019 by

KV (Sri Lanka) v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2019] UKSC 10

How likely is it that an asylum seeker, in order to support a false asylum claim, invited another person to inflict him with serious burn wounds under anaesthetic?

This startling possibility – wounding “self-inflicted by proxy” (SIBP) in the jargon – was the subject of this extraordinary appeal.  The Supreme Court concluded that injury SIBP was “likely to be extremely rare.”  In the process, it gave important guidance on the treatment of expert medical evidence in asylum cases.


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Shamima Begum: is stripping her of her citizenship the right response?

1 March 2019 by

Michael Spencer is a pupil barrister at One Crown Office Row.

The fate of Shamima Begum, the British teenager who joined the Islamic State in Syria (ISIS) and has asked to return home, has divided opinion. 

Home Secretary Sajid Javid’s decision to deprive the 19-year-old mother of her citizenship is apparently popular: a recent poll found that 78% support the move.

But others have raised concerns about the propriety of using such a draconian power against a British citizen by birth in circumstances where she may be rendered stateless, also leaving the fate of her child uncertain.

From Bethnal Green schoolgirl to ISIS bride

Ms Begum was born in the UK to parents of Bangladeshi heritage.  She was one of three 15-year-old schoolgirls from the Bethnal Green Academy who travelled to Syria via Turkey in 2015 to join ISIS. 

The Metropolitan Police subsequently apologised to the families for failing to warn them that the schoolgirls were at risk and suggested that they would not face criminal charges if they returned to the UK.

After arriving in Raqqa, Syria, Ms Begum married ISIS fighter Yago Riedijk, a Dutch national.  She had three children with him, two of whom died.  Her youngest son, Jarrah, was born in a Syrian refugee camp in February 2019. 

The press caught up with Ms Begum just before she gave birth and she has given a series of incendiary interviews.  She claimed that she had been “just been a housewife for the entire four years” and that she had not done anything “dangerous” or made propaganda.  However, she also said she had “no regrets” about joining ISIS and suggested that the Manchester Arena bombings were justified because of the bombing of civilians in Syria.


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The third inquest into the death of Pearse Jordan: when “don’t know” is the only available answer

28 November 2018 by

In the latest in the protracted investigation into the death of Pearse Jordan, the Northern Ireland Court of Appeal has upheld the verdict of a Coroner who found himself unable to decide all the relevant facts – Re Theresa Jordan [2018] NICA 34.  The case raises issues around the appropriate burden and standard of proof in inquests, particularly after a significant passage of time.

The Inquests 

On 25 November 1992, Patrick Pearse Jordan was shot and killed at Falls Road, Belfast, by an officer of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, referred to in proceedings as “Sergeant A.”  Mr Jordan was unarmed and was shot in the back.  Three inquests have subsequently been held into his death.
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