Father of British fighter against Islamic State slams ‘laughable’ prosecutions

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The father of a British man fighting against so-called Islamic State in Syria has criticised the decision to bring charges as “laughable”.

Paul Newey, 49, of Solihull, West Midlands, had been accused of funding terrorism by sending £150 to his son Daniel, 27.

He had been due to face trial in Birmingham with his younger son Sam, 19, and former British soldier Daniel Burke, 33, from Manchester, who were also accused of helping him.

On Friday, charges were dropped against all three men at the Old Bailey following a Crown Prosecution Service review.

It followed bids by defence barristers for the disclosure of more information held by the prosecution.

The lawyers responded by demanding a more detailed explanation for the decision to offer no evidence.

Andrew Hall QC, for Mr Burke, told the court it was in the “interests of justice” to know.

Richard Thomas said Paul Newey was a “hard working man vilified in this country and abroad as a terrorist”.

He told the court: “We say he is entitled to an explanation.”

Sam Newey’s lawyer Balbir Singh added that their lives had been “turned upside down with the anxiety that they have had to suffer”.

Sam Newey outside at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, London, at an earlier hearing
Sam Newey outside at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, London, at an earlier hearing (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

He said: “I appreciate there may be public interest sensitivities involved because this decision has been taken in the context of a disclosure exercise but reconsideration may make the prosecution cast more light on the decision.”

Afterwards, Paul Newey said he had been left feeling “disgusted and angry”.

He told the PA news agency: “There was no crime committed because it’s not terrorism – because my son (Daniel Newey) is not a terrorist.

“He was there (in Syria) fighting with the allied forces against Isis.

“He was doing the right thing – he has gone to put his life at risk for other people for no gain to himself.”

On the decision to press charges, he added: “It was madness, laughable. It just totally beggars belief.”

The Neweys had been on bail as they awaited trial while Mr Burke had been held in custody for seven months.

The prosecution had alleged Mr Burke had repeatedly shown his desire to leave the UK to return to Syria in order to fight for Kurdish militia.

When he was detained in a port stop last December, he told officers it was “a joke”, saying: “I’m not a terrorist; you know I am not a terrorist. I have done nothing but fight for this country.”

As well as assisting Daniel Newey, Mr Burke, who formerly served in the Parachute Regiment, was charged with two other terror offences.

It was alleged he arranged with others to provide money and military equipment for terrorism and engaging in conduct in preparation to commit, prepare or instigate an act of terrorism between October 7 and December 7 last year.

Mr Burke’s case followed the landmark trial of British Army reject Aidan James.

James, 29, from Formby, Merseyside, was jailed at the Old Bailey last November for training to fight against Islamic State in 2017.

He was found guilty of training in weapons with the banned Marxist political organisation the PKK in Iraq but cleared of attending a place of terror training with Kurdish YPG units – or “People’s Protection Units” – across the border in Syria.

The court heard he was acquitted because the YPG was working in defence of the Kurdish people against the threat of a lethal and “genocidal” Islamic State force, with British support.

A CPS spokesperson said: “As part of our responsibility to continuously keep cases under review, we have concluded our legal test for a prosecution is no longer met.

“We have therefore offered no evidence in the case against Paul and Samuel Newey and Daniel Burke.”

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