SAJID Javid is drawing up plans for a new Treason Act to jail ISIS fighters who have betrayed Britain, The Sun can reveal.
The Home Secretary has tasked officials to work on the major new criminal offence to close down current legal loopholes.
Getty Images – Getty Sajid Javid has tasked officials to work on plans for a new Treason Act after the furore over Shamima Begum
It would also be used to prosecute foreign spies on espionage missions in the UK, such as agents of Russia’s infamous GRU intelligence agency.
The first Treason Act was passed in 1351 for crimes against the monarch.
The modern day definition would be an act of betrayal by anyone using violence, or attempting to, against the people of the United Kingdom.
Punishable by a maximum term of life imprisonment, it would fill the current legal loopholes that have allowed dozens of returning jihadis to walk free because there is too little evidence to prosecute them.
In the last week or so, there has been a lot more interest in this from Government than there has been in the previous five and a half monthsMP Tom Tugendhat
The original proposal for it was made by Tory MP and Commons Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Tom Tugendhat in an academic paper in July last year.
Ministers leaped on his plan after the furore exploded over jihadi bride Shamima Begum’s bid to return to the UK to bring up her newborn son last week, he revealed.
And Mr Javid has personally asked to study the paper.
Mr Tugendhat told BBC Radio 4’s Week in Westminster programme: “In the last week or so, there has been a lot more interest in this from Government than there has been in the previous five and a half months.”
A NEW TREASON ACT
The senior MP explained: “It wouldn’t be used very often. But the crime of betrayal should be a distinct and particular offence.
“The charge of treason today would be a betrayal of the duties we have towards each other – such as the right not to do violence against each other.”
A senior Home office source said a new Treason Act could be introduced alongside a planned new Espionage Bill being drawn up to counter hostile states’ activities after the Salisbury nerve agent attack.
The new laws are designed to match the US’s Foreign Agents Registration Act, a catch-all to prosecute all spies and terrorists.
The source added: “It is very difficult to obtain UK standards of evidence from a war zone.
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“That is why we have only been able to prosecute 40 of around 400 who have returned from Syria and Iraq.”
Australia and New Zealand recently updated their treason laws to be used on jihadis.
Tory peers and MPs also this week backed calls for a new Treason Act after the Shamima Begum case.
ITV Jihadi bride Shamima Begum wants to return to Britain to raise her son
Tory MP Tom Tugendhat said there had been a lot more Government interest in the Treason Act in recent weeks