'Lyrical terrorist' wins appeal
By Jan Colley,
Tuesday, 17 June 2008
The woman who called herself the "lyrical terrorist" won
her appeal today against conviction for collecting
information of a kind likely to be useful to a person
committing or preparing an act of terrorism.
Former Heathrow shop assistant Samina Malik, 24, who was
given a nine-month jail sentence suspended for 18 months at
the Old Bailey last December, was the first women convicted
under Section 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000.
Today, the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Phillips, sitting in
the Court of Appeal with Mr Justice Goldring and Mr Justice
Plender, quashed the conviction after the Crown conceded
that it was unsafe.
He said: "We consider that there is a very real danger that
the jury became confused and that the prosecution have
rightly conceded that this conviction is unsafe."
Afterwards, the Crown Prosecution Service said it has
decided not to seek a retrial in the case.
Malik, who was not in court, adopted her nickname because
of the extremist lyrics which she wrote on till receipts at
Sue Hemming, head of the CPS's counter terrorism division,
said: "Since Ms Malik's conviction, the law has been
clarified by the Court of Appeal.
"The result is that some of the 21 documents we relied on
in Ms Malik's trial would no longer be held capable of
giving practical assistance to terrorists.
"However, other documents in her possession, including the
al Qaida Manual, the Terrorist's Handbook, the Mujahideen
Poisons Handbook and several military manuals, clearly
retain that potential. We therefore have no doubt that it
was right to bring this prosecution.
"Nevertheless, taking into account the time Ms Malik spent
on remand before her first trial, and the likely
non-custodial sentence she would receive upon conviction in
a retrial, we have decided not to seek a retrial on those
"Ms Malik was not prosecuted for her poetry. She was
prosecuted for possessing documents that could provide
practical assistance to terrorists."
Giving judgment today, Lord Phillips said that in February
this year, the Court of Appeal gave detailed consideration
to Section 58 of the Act and decided that an offence would
be committed only if the document or record concerned was
of a kind likely to provide practical assistance to a
person committing or preparing an act of terrorism.
Propagandist or theological material did not fall within
The problem in Malik's case was that it went to the jury on
the basis that the 14 documents - out of the 21 - which did
not fall within Section 58 were also capable of founding a
"The jury was required to consider not only documents which
were capable of being of practical utility for a person
committing or preparing an act of terrorism, but a large
number of documents that were not.
"We consider that there was scope for the jury to have
Had the test of practical utility been appreciated, the
prosecution would no doubt have founded their case on the
small quantity of documents satisfying that test.
As it was, he added, the trial judge, who did not have the
benefit of the appeal court's judgment, simply left it to
the jury to decide in the case of each document whether it
was likely to be useful to a terrorist.
At her trial, Malik was acquitted of the more serious
charge, under Section 57 of the Act, of possessing an
article for terrorist purposes.