Category: News

Soraya Bauwens’ client unanimously acquitted of terrorism charges

Soraya Bauwens

KA was acquitted on four terrorism charges after a three-week trial at the Central Criminal Court on Friday 16th December 2022.

KA, a young man of good character who had been remanded in custody for over a year awaiting trial, was charged with dissemination of three terrorist publications in May 2020, and possession of a machete in circumstances which give rise to a reasonable suspicion that his possession was intended for a purpose connected with the commission or preparation of an act of terrorism in October to November 2021. The jury returned unanimous verdicts of Not Guilty on all counts on the indictment after approximately two hours of deliberations.

The Crown relied extensively on ‘mindset’ material to suggest KA had an ‘extremist’ mindset. This included reliance on videos, audios, nasheeds, social media messages and posts, and internet history, amongst others. The Crown suggested KA had been radicalised through exposure to ISIS, Taliban, Al-Qaeda, and other propaganda material.

The three-week trial included detailed argument and examination on the following issues:

• Extensive and successful legal arguments on ‘mindset’ material;

• The objective parameters of a terrorist publication under section 2 of the Terrorism Act 2006;

• The change in burden and standard of proof in relation to section 57;

• Section 8 disclosure applications for evidence that may undermine the crown’s case and/or assist the defence;

• The admissibility of expert opinion evidence on the subject of what may constitute a terrorist publication;

• Engagement of Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights during an assessment of what constitutes a terrorist publication, and when assessing mindset material, including unpalatable speech;

• Geopolitical issues, including the background to the Syrian conflict and atrocities committed; the legitimacy of the Assad regime; whether specified militia groups in various parts of the world were religious or political in nature;

• Cultural and linguistic issues, including to what extent a passive prayer may be framed in the context of encouragement or inducement to commit acts of terrorism, significance of a Shahadah flag, and the use of certain Arabic terminology and their context dependent meaning;

• Theological issues, including examination of the belief system of various sects, types of Salafi and other Islamic groups, interpretation of verses of the Quran and Hadith, definition and scope of terms such as ‘khawarij’, and ‘takfir’, and the proper meaning of ‘jihad.’

The defence instructed technical experts to examine numerous seized devices, and an expert on culture, language, Islamic law, with experience of terrorist materials to assist.

1MCB Chambers’ Soraya Bauwens and Rabah Kherbane (Doughty Street Chambers) were instructed as juniors by Amer Ahmad at JD Spicer Zeb Solicitors.  Sultana Tafadar KC (No5 Barristers’ Chambers) was instructed as leading counsel.

Ife Thompson addresses the United Nations Permanent Forum for People of African Descent

On 8th December 2022, pupil barrister Ife Thompson recently addressed the newly launched United Nations Permanent Forum for People of African Descent (UNPAD).  Mandated by the Durban Declaration Programme of Action – the UN’s blueprint to combat racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance globally – UNPAD is a consultative mechanism for people of African descent and other relevant stakeholders, and a platform for improving the safety and quality of life and livelihoods of people of African descent; it is also an advisory body to the Human Rights Council.

Ife is a senior UN fellow for the International Decade for People of African Descent and represented three organisations before the Forum: BLAM UK, Justice for Chris Kaba Campaign and the Global Black Collective Institute.  Her intervention called for the creation of a mechanism within the UN from which victims of police brutality can seek redress and support.  She also invited the Forum to tackle the issue of language discrimination, particularly in schools, highlighting the case of a Black child who was excluded from school for greeting a teacher in Jamaican Patois, and reminded the Forum that if it is to be truly accessible, it must provide interpretation in afro-descedant languages such as Haitian Creole and Patois.   Finally, Ife proposed a youth Forum to ensure intergenerational dialogue.

Ife will continue to work with the Forum to shape a new Declaration on Human Rights of People of African Descent.

The proceedings can be viewed here.

Resisting discriminatory policing through the criminal courts

Ife Thompson’s article, ‘Discrimination and policing’, has been published in the latest edition of Legal Action Group magazine.

In the article, Ife explores how to resist racial profiling and discriminatory policing through the criminal courts and highlights how racial trauma might have a bearing on mens rea in cases of alleged police obstruction.

The article is available to read here.

Ife is a pupil barrister at 1MCB Chambers.  She is the founder of BLAM UK and Black Protest Legal Support and in 2020, was selected by the United Nations Office for Human Rights as the UK’s UN Fellow for the UN International Decade for People of African Descent.


1MCB members ranked in Chambers & Partners 2023

1MCB Chambers is pleased to announce that a number of its members have again been recognised as leaders in their respective fields by Chambers & Partners 2023. 

Iain Edwards is ranked for the eighth year in a row in the Spotlight Table for international criminal law. He is acknowledged as “clearly a very strong practitioner in international proceedings” and “calm, sensitive and in control at all times”.

Anna Watterson and Michael Sprack are both recognised for their work in social housing.  

Described as a “well regarded junior with expertise across a range of housing matters”, Anna is noted to be “bright and thorough, and someone who asks the right questions”.  

Michael is ranked as an up and coming practitioner who is “very committed to his work and a man with great client care, who is able to explain the law in simple terms to lay clients”

Judicial appointment: Anna Watterson

Chambers congratulates Anna Watterson on her appointment as Deputy District Judge.  Anna – who already sits in the Social Entitlement Chamber of the First Tier Tribunal – will hear a broad variety of civil cases on the South Eastern Circuit.

1MCB members ranked in Legal 500 2023

Legal 500 2023: Leading Junior

1MCB Chambers is pleased to announce that six members have been ranked as leading juniors in the 2023 edition of  Legal 500, across four practice areas: crime, international criminal law and extradition, immigration and social housing.

Iain Edwards maintained Tier 1 ranking in international criminal law and extradition, described as “a formidable presence in the courtroom and demonstrates a complete mastery of international criminal procedure and the facts of the case.”

Bernadette Smith maintained Tier 1 ranking in immigration (including business immigration), described as having “extensive and up-to-date knowledge of the relevant laws and procedures, and thinks carefully and creatively around the challenges that each case presents.”

Salma Lalani is now ranked in Tier 2 for crime, described as “a shrewd and highly-accomplished trial advocate who brings a tactical focus to any case.”

Amritpal Bachu maintained Tier 4 ranking in Social Housing.

Michael Sprack and Soraya Bauwens are new entrants, ranked in their respective practice areas.

Michael Sprack ranked in Tier 4 for social housing, described as “Michael’s advocacy skills are excellent and his style understated but extremely effective. He handles vulnerable and unpredictable defendants with skill and intelligence.”

Soraya Bauwens ranked in Tier 4 for crime, described as “very meticulous and thoughtful with a depth and breadth of experience.”

Call for the release of Alphonse Nteziryayo, unlawfully detained in Niger

Today, 23rd August 2022, marks eight months since Alphonse Nteziryayo and seven other men were first unlawfully detained in Niamey, Niger. All had either been acquitted after trials before the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, or had been released following the completion of their sentences.

After serving his sentence of imprisonment, Mr Nteziryayo spent nearly six years in a safe house in Arusha where the ICTR, and its successor International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals, is headquartered. He was refused the chance to be reunited with his family in Europe. The UN eventually negotiated an agreement with the government of Niger to relocate the eight men, but within weeks of their arrival in Niamey, the government of Niger confiscated their identity documents and posted armed police outside their residence. The men have remained unlawfully detained ever since, unable to leave except for medical or similar reasons. The government of Niger has refused to comply with various orders made by a judge of the IRMCT, who has described the situation as “a crisis”.

Iain Edwards, counsel for Mr Nteziryayo, along with lawyers for the seven other men, issued a press release today calling on all countries that respect the rule of law to agree to resettle their clients. Iain said, “The international community, including the UN as an institution, cannot wash its hands of my client or of his long-suffering family. It must recognise that Mr Nteziryayo has served his sentence and should be allowed to live his final years in peace, reunited with his wife and children. I call on all countries that believe in the rule of law to step up and offer a sustainable solution to what risks amounting to an indelible stain on the legacy of the ICTR.”

1MCB Chambers supports days of action

Members of 1MCB Chambers’ crime team fully support taking days of action to prevent further decline to our criminal justice system.

Since 2006, legally aided criminal defence fees have decreased by an average of 28% in real terms.  The Criminal Bar Association’s data shows that, in 2019-20, criminal barristers in their first three years of practice earned a median income of £12,200 before tax; many will additionally be burdened by huge sums in debt from the minimum of five years’ study and training that it takes to qualify into our profession.  The goodwill that has been propping up the failing criminal justice system – our goodwill –  has run dry, leading to a mass exodus from criminal practice.  In turn, the number of trials that cannot proceed because there is either no-one to prosecute or no-one to defend has increased significantly: last year alone, 576 trials were postponed because one party or the other was not represented on the day, leaving complainants, witnesses and defendants placing their lives on hold yet again as they rejoin the queue backlog of 58,000 cases waiting to be heard.  We cannot stand by and continue to watch the decimation of our profession and the laying to waste of the fundamental principles of fairness and open justice.

At 1MCB Chambers, we are especially proud of the diversity of our members.  Yet, criminal practitioners with caring responsibilities often pay to work, pushing women out of the profession at an alarming rate.  Without an immediate improvement in remuneration, there is no prospect of addressing the gender gap at the criminal bar – a gap that is all the more pronounced for women who are black, Asian or from racialised minorities.

None of us takes this action lightly. We recognise the urgent need to safeguard the future not only of our profession, but of the whole criminal justice system.

Court of Appeal rules on the approach to deportation in relation to convictions outside the UK

In Gosturani v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2022] EWCA Civ 779 the Court of Appeal held that a conviction outside the UK for a serious offence could give rise to a public interest in deportation.

The appellant, an Albanian national,  had arrived in the UK in 1997 and had  obtained Indefinite Leave to Remain by using a false name and claiming to be  a Kosovan national.  In 2006 he was convicted in Italy for offences of living off the earnings of female prostitution and attempted blackmail, resulting in a six and a half year prison sentence. He was married and his wife and five children were British citizens.

The appellant argued that the public interest in relation to deportation arising from foreign convictions was not the same as that arising from UK convictions, as the same statutory scheme did not apply.

Dismissing the appeal, the Court of Appeal held that even though the appellant was not a “foreign criminal” within the meaning of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 Pt 5A, the fact that the offence had been committed abroad did not, of itself, indicate that a different, lesser, weight was to be given to the legitimate public interest  of preventing crime and disorder recognised in Article 8(2) ECHR. On the facts of the case, the Upper Tribunal had been entitled to find that the deception that the appellant had used to enter and remain in the UK and his serious criminal offence outweighed the impact of his deportation on his family and private life.

Barnabas Lams represented the appellant.

High Court rules secret Home Office policy on seizure of migrants’ mobile phones unlawful

Relief will be determined in a hearing at the end of June 2022 in the case of R (on the application of HM) v Secretary of State for the Home Department; R (on the application of MA and another) v Secretary of State for the Home Department (Privacy International intervening) [2022] EWHC 695 (Admin) which was heard earlier this year.  The case potentially affects thousands of migrants who may be entitled to damages after they were subjected to unlawful policies and practices when they arrived to the UK by small boat and subsequently had their phones seized, their data downloaded, retained and who were then prevented from copying numbers to contact loved ones after crossing the Channel safely.

The case concerned the Home Office’s operation of a secret policy whereby officers were to search all migrants arriving by small boat to the UK; to seize and retain their phones without allowing access to the contents, and to download all data under a secret, blanket policy.  The policy was in operation until November 2020.

The Home Office’s starting position was that no secret, blanket policy existed: it was many months before they admitted they had breached their duty of candour to the Court.  This breach of the duty of candour is due to be considered at the upcoming hearing.

There were other further significant concessions secured, including an acceptance that demanding a PIN on threat of a non-existent criminal offence was unlawful.   Moreover, not only was the seizure and retention of the devices conceded to be unlawful under Article 8 ECHR and the Data Protection Act 2018 as a result of being operated under a blanket policy, but the subsequent complete extraction of the data from the mobile phones was unlawful under the Data Protection Act 2018.

The Claimants went on to successfully argue that the Defendant’s actions were not only unlawful by reason of the policy but also because the Home Office was acting unlawfully by going beyond the legislative power by exceeding the limits set out in section 48 of the Immigration Act 2016 (upon which it relied for the seizure and retention of phones), which authorises the search of premises and the subsequent seizure of items found on the premises, as distinct from a person.

Bernadette Smith was instructed by Deighton Pierce Glynn in this matter.  Geeta Koska and Alex Bennie provided research assistance during the case.

Bernadette recently spoke about the case at Public Law Project‘s conference, Data Law for Public Lawyers, Public Law for Data Lawyers.

1MCB Chambers is moving

We are pleased to announce that, as of 16th May 2022, 1MCB Chambers will be relocating to 5 Chancery Lane.

Located in the heart of legal London, our new premises is just a few minutes’ walk from the Central line and offers much improved conference facilities as well as a modern and efficient working environment for our barristers and staff.

Our telephone numbers and DX address will remain unchanged.

We look forward to welcoming you to our new home.


Trial of Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-Al-Rahman to open at the ICC

Tomorrow, 5th April 2022, the trial of Ali Muhammad Ali Abd-Al-Rahman will open at the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Iain Edwards is appointed as associate counsel for the defence.

Mr Abd-Al-Rahman is accused of having been a notorious commander of the Arab militia in Darfur, Sudan commonly known as the Janjaweed. He is charged with 31 counts of murder, rape, forcible transfer, persecution and torture as crimes against humanity, and numerous war crimes, all arising out of the conflict in West Darfur between August 2003 and April 2004.

One of the key issues in the case is the accused’s identity. Most witnesses are expected to testify that the Janjaweed commander was a man called Ali Kushayb. The prosecution claims that Mr Abd-Al-Rahman and Ali Kushayb are the same person but this assertion is vehemently denied.

The prosecution will call or otherwise rely on approximately 125 witnesses. Mr Abd-Al-Rahman has pleaded not guilty to all counts and the trial itself is likely to last for well over a year.

This case is the first at the ICC to deal with the conflict in Darfur. It is also the first case to be referred to the ICC by the United Nations Security Council in respect of a State (Sudan) that is not a party to the Court’s Statute. This has provided a unique opportunity for the defence to advance novel jurisdictional challenges.

The trial will be webstreamed via the ICC website and the ICC YouTube channel.