Council slams Jihadi bride Shamima Begum’s lawyer over ‘failing to safeguard’ claim
PUBLISHED: 16:33 22 February 2019 | UPDATED: 10:13 25 February 2019
Family lawyers representing runaway Bethnal Green Isis teenager Shamima Begum have been slammed by Tower Hamlets Council after it was accused of failing to safeguard her.
The 19-year-old, who faces being stripped of her British citizenship and barred from returning to the UK, was never known to the local authority before she fled to Syria to become a Jihadi bride in 2015 at the age of 15.
Lawyer Tasnime Akunjee claimed at a news conference earlier this week that there had been “a litany of failures” by the council, Met Police and Bethnal Green Academy where Shamima and two schoolmates were pupils before they fled to join Isis.
It was “almost inconceivable” that no-one had been held to account over the girls’ flight to Syria, the lawyer said.
A town hall statement to the East London Advertiser said: “We find the accusations by the family lawyer to be unfair and skewed.
“Tower Hamlets has the strongest measures to help prevent radicalisation and has been part of the government’s counter terrorism programme since 2011.”
Counter-terrorism detectives had interviewed the three girls in school in 2015, before they skipped, over the disappearance of a fourth girl who fled to Syria two months before—but failed to tell the families directly about the interviews. They gave them letters instead to pass onto their parents, which was never done, the Met admitted, although parents were aware that one girl had gone missing.
Mr Akunjee accused Tower Hamlets of “severe negligence or cover-up” because no serious case review had been carried out.
But Shamima was not known to social services before she skipped the country. The council immediately carried out an emergency inquiry when the girls vanished.
Mayor John Biggs said: “I understand how desperate Shamima’s family are for her return, but allegations by their lawyers are not a fair reflection.”
He added: “Shamima Begum will have to account for her actions, which is a government matter.”
Shamima gave birth in a Syrian refugee camp earlier this week and made a desperate plea to be allowed back to Britain.
But several government ministers including home secretary Sajid Javid insist she would not be permitted to return as she “could still be a potential threat” to the country.