• The immigration case of Pham v Home Secretary 2015 UKSC 2019 highlighted that a person could be deprived of their British Citizenship status on the ground that it was favourable to the public good.
  • The appellant Pham, born in Vietnam arrived in the UK in 1989. Asylum was later granted to remain in the UK and Pham subsequently gained British Citizenship.
  • At the age of 21 he converted to Islamic Extremism and travelled to Yemen.

Facts of the Case

  • An deprivation order made by The Secretary of state under  British Nationality Act 1981 s.40(2) was made on the premise that the deprivation was for the public benefit as the appellant was a committed extremist Islamist.
  • The appellant had received specific terrorist training and got involved with terrorism activities from 2011 in Yemen.

Issues in Pham v Home Secretary 2015 UKSC 2019

  • Whether s.40 British Nationality Act was prohibited on the grounds that it would make the appellant stateless.
  • The scope of the appellant’s appeal was strictly limited with no finer point on EU law. This meant it came down to the confinement and wording of s.40 British Nationality Act.

Held by Special Immigration Appeals Commission.

  • s.40 appeal allowed as the decision would make Pham stateless and was therefore not permitted under s.40(4) of the 1981 Act.

Held by Court of Appeal

  • Secretary of state argued this would not make Pham Stateless and applied to strike out the appeal by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission  Pham appealed.
  • It was held by the Supreme Court that the appeal could not be permitted and was remitted to the Special Immigration Appeals Commission.

Lord Neuberger, Lady Hale, Lord Mance, Lord Wilson, Lord Sumption, Lord Reed, Lord Carnwath

  • The appellant having admitted to terrorism charges in the United States, was already serving a term of 40 years imprisonment in a high security prison. The secretary of state then applied to strike out the appeal under the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (Procedure) Rules 2003 r.11B.
  • The appellant argued that the application to strike the appeal should be stuck out due to the fact he would be out and free to return to the UK with any national security risk no longer existent.
  • Secretary of state stayed with the motion that the appellant remained a threat and that the order should be maintained. Singh LJ maintained that British citizenship comes with it loyalty and obligations and that a breach of this would result in a repudiation of said citizenship.


  • The appeal was dismissed.
  • There is a right to deprive someone of their British citizenship on the basis that they had repudiated his obligation of loyalty.
  • The question asked, “Could a person be deprived of British Citizenship on the basis he did not pose a current risk to nation security?”. Answer, yes. Due to the wording of s.40, the secretary of state had to be satisfied that the deprivation is conducive to the public good and this was satisfied.