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Furious families of the ISIS ‘Beatles’ victims slam bungling UK legal system

Furious families of the ‘ISIS Beatles’ victims have slammed the UK legal system for ‘letting them down’ as it emerged Britain STILL can’t send crucial evidence to US because it violates their ‘data protection rights’ 

Bethany Haines, whose father David was beheaded by the ISIS ‘Beatles’ in Syria in 2013, savaged the way the case had been handled in the past two years. 

It came as it was feared the two surviving ‘ISIS Beatles’ could never face justice in the US – because the Supreme Court ruled that handing over vital evidence breached their ‘data protection rights’ in legal action brought by one of their mothers. 

Prosecutors in the US initially planned to seek Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh’s execution – and the British government want the pair prosecuted in the US, where it is thought there is a more realistic chance of prosecution than at home. 

But the Supreme Court this year ruled that Britain could not provide any assistance to American investigators when the threat of death hung over the two – who are accused of being complicit in the murders of 27 people, including the British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning and four Americans.

Mr Haines’ daughter Bethany told MailOnline: ‘We’ve waited over two years and have been let down by the UK legal system.

‘The way this has been handled has been terrible. I’ m glad something is finally happening.

‘Rather than the two countries communicating privately, the US has used the press to communicate, which has made this so much harder than it needed to be.

‘In regards to Bill Barr’s threat to send them to Iraq if the deadline isn’t met, I think this is purely a political move.

‘I urge both governments to remember that this is about real people and our lost loved ones getting justice.’

Last night American Attorney General Bill Barr said capital punishment could be dropped in any cases against Kotey and Elsheikh in an effort to pave the way for the men – currently being held in military detention in Iraq – to finally face justice and stand trial in the US. 

He set a two-month deadline for any transfer of evidence to begin or the pair will face justice in Iraq – where ISIS fighters are sentenced to hang after five-minute hearings.

But MailOnline has learned the climbdown has currently changed nothing for the frustrated Home Office and government who are still banned from sending evidence over.

Their hands are tied by the Supreme Court judgement on data protection which said providing evidence for criminal proceedings where they could be executed breached their human rights. 

The court had ruled after Elsheikh’s mother Maha Elgizouli challenged the then home secretary Savid Javid’s initial decision to share the information in a case costing thousands.

She believes her son should face justice but that any trial should take place in the UK. Today she refused to comment on the latest developments.

This afternoon the court’s registrar was talking with both Ms Elgizouli and the Home Office in a desperate effort to try to unravel the legal nightmare.

Former chief of government national emergency committee COBRA Colonel Richard Kemp told MailOnline the Supreme Court had to reverse its position fast to get justice done.

He said: ‘The Supreme Court now needs to change its ruling in light of the US undertaking.

‘Without that I think America will have no choice apart from handing them over to Iraqi custody, unless they can get this evidence.

‘If that’s what the Supreme Court wants then they should stick to their guns.

‘They need to act fast on this – it would be better for justice to be done in the US court than in the Iraqi system.

‘Until British law is changed to enable us to convict people in circumstances like this, the next best option is the States.’

At the time it was savaged over the ruling by barrister Jon Holbrook, who said the boundaries between politics and law had been erased.

He said: ‘The judgment from the Supreme Court is shocking. Seven judges have waded into a political issue of the most sensitive kind.

‘Fettering the prosecution of extremists who may be responsible for the most heinous, repulsive and barbaric of crimes is a surefire way of turning the people against the law.’ 

A source told MailOnline: ‘This US announcement hasn’t changed anything at the moment. The government is still prohibited from sending any evidence over by the ruling in the Supreme Court.

‘The supreme court has been notified of the changes announced by the US.

‘As it stands the Supreme Court has made its judgement but the final order has not yet been sent to the parties – no evidence can be sent over.’

Ms Elgizouli had been awarded at least £5,820 in legal aid to pay for her killer son’s fight to be returned to Britain.

The ISIS ‘Beatles’ are believed to be responsible for beheading more than 27 hostages. 

In a letter to Home Secretary Priti Patel, US Attorney General Bill Barr signalled that capital punishment could be dropped in any potential case against Kotey and Elsheikh. 

Mr Barr and his predecessor Jeff Sessions initially baulked at efforts to drop the death sentence. It is understood the U-turn has occurred after the Supreme Court in London blocked the ‘unlawful’ sharing of evidence with US authorities. 

In March, a panel of seven justices ruled that then-Home Secretary Sajid Javid’s decision to share evidence was driven by ‘political pressure from the US’.   

It is understood that US assurances to drop the death penalty in a potential case is seen as a welcome development by the Home Office. 

According to the Associated Press, Mr Barr said in his letter to Ms Patel: ‘I know that the United Kingdom shares our determination that there should be a full investigation and a criminal prosecution of Kotey and Elsheikh.

‘These men are alleged to be members of the terrorist group the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham and to have been involved in kidnappings, murders, and other violent crimes against the citizens of our two countries, as well as the citizens of other countries.

‘If we receive the requested evidence and attendant cooperation from the United Kingdom, we intend to proceed with a United States prosecution. Indeed, it is these unique circumstances that have led me to provide the assurance offered in this letter.’ 

Elsheikh and Kotey, who were caught in January 2018, are accused of belonging to a brutal four-man cell of executioners in Syria, nicknamed The Beatles because of their British accents, responsible for killing 27 captives. 

Other members of the cell are said to include Mohammed Emwazi, the group’s ringleader, also known as Jihadi John, who was killed in a US air strike in 2015, while Aine Davis is in jail in Turkey for terror offences.

Kotey and Elsheikh, who were raised in the UK but have been stripped of their British citizenship, were seized by the Syrian Democratic Forces in January 2018.

Their capture sparked an international row over whether they should be returned to the UK for trial or face justice in another jurisdiction.  

They were transferred to US custody last October as Turkey invaded Syria to attack Kurds who have battling ISIS alongside US forces. They are being held overseas.

Emwazi appeared in a number of videos in which hostages, including British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning and US journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, were killed.

US officials have not announced any charges against Elsheikh and Kotey, but have spoken publicly about their desire to see members of the group face justice.  

Mr Barr said  the British government had until October 15 to resolve any legal objections it may have and to provide US authorities with the evidence they seek. 

Otherwise, the men will be transferred to Iraqi custody for prosecution by Iraqi authorities, Barr wrote. 

He said the US would not provide to third countries that might impose the death penalty any evidence it has already received, or may received, from the UK.

The British government confirmed that it had received the letter, with the Home Office saying in a statement that its top priority has always been to protect national security and to deliver justice for families.

The decision is a significant development in years of wrangling over Kotey and Elsheikh. The US and British governments have an agreement to share documents, records and other evidence in criminal investigations. In 2015, the Justice Department asked for evidence that Britain had gathered on the ‘Beatles,’ saying it was doing its own investigation into Americans who were murdered in Syria.

British authorities had been willing to provide the US with evidence even without assurances that the men would not be executed if convicted.

In July 2018, after lawyers for Elsheikh demanded a review of the decision to allow the men to be put on trial in the US, Britain’s Home Office temporarily suspended cooperation with US authorities.

Then, in March, the British Supreme Court held that it was unlawful for the United Kingdom to provide evidence to a foreign country that could be used in a death penalty prosecution. The court has not yet issued its final order, Barr said, and even after that there could be additional litigation to block transfer of the evidence.

The IS militants known as the ‘Beatles’ held Western hostages in Syria and tortured many of them, and also beheaded a group of journalists and aid workers in gruesome videos that were released to the world as propaganda.

Emwazi was responsible for the beheading of James Foley, a 40-year-old freelance journalist who was killed in Syria after being kidnapped by militants. A video of that killing circulated online six years ago Wednesday.

His mother, Diane Foley, said in an interview that she was gratified by the Justice Department’s action, which Barr had said would be coming soon in a conversation with her and other victims’ families this month.

‘I feel that both countries ideally should work together to hold these men accountable and give them a fair trial,’ Foley said. ‘If they are guilty, they need to be put away for the rest of their lives.’

She said the only way to stop acts of terrorism was to hold the perpetrators accountable. ‘This would be a huge step, so I am just very, very hopeful and grateful to the attorney general’ and the Justice Department, she said.

The daughter of murdered British aid worker David Haines today blasted the UK government over the bungled prosecution of the terrorists who murdered her father.

Bethany Haines said that she was ‘glad’ the men nicknamed ‘The Beatles’ who beheaded her father in Syria in 2013 will finally face justice – but said the way in which the case has been handled was ‘terrible’

Bethany hit out after the US told Britain it will not insist on the death penalty for two alleged ISIS militants suspected of beheading Western hostages if they are extradited to America to go on trial for murder.

Speaking from her home in Perth, Scotland, Bethany told MailOnline: ‘I’m glad something is finally happening. We’ve waited over two years and have been let down by the UK legal system.

‘However, the way this has been handled has been terrible. Rather than the two countries communicating privately, the US has used the press to communicate, which has made this so much harder than it needed to be.

‘In regards to Bill Barr’s threat to send them to Iraq if the deadline isn’t met, I think this is purely a political move.

‘I urge both governments to remember that this is about real people and our lost loved ones getting justice.’

A Home Office spokesman said: ‘The Government’s priority has always been to protect national security and to deliver justice for the victims and their families.

‘We continue to work closely with international partners to ensure that those who have committed crimes in the name of Daesh are brought to justice.  

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