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Jesse Nicholls represents mother of Rhianan Rudd

Published:

Jesse Nicholls, instructed by Anna Moore of Leigh Day, represented the mother of Rhianan Rudd at the first pre-inquest review hearing into her death at Chesterfield Coroner’s Court today.

Rhianan was found dead in a local authority children’s home in May 2022. She was just 16. In the 18 months prior to her death, Rhianan, who had been diagnosed with autism, was investigated by counter-terror police and prosecuted by the CPS on terrorism charges after being groomed and sexually exploited online by far-right extremists.

Evidence indicates that both MI5 and counter-terror police knew that Rhianan had been a victim of child sexual exploitation before she was criminally charged but they did not refer Rhianan to the relevant body – the National Referral Mechanism – as a victim. Instead, Rhianan was investigated and prosecuted. As a result, Prevent engagement with Rhianan, aimed addressing her radicalisation, stopped. The criminal charges against Rhianan were eventually dropped after a referral to the NRM, made by a social worker, identified Rhianan as a child victim. By the time the charges were dropped, Rhianan had been subject to investigation and prosecution for over 15 months.

Rhianan is believed to be the youngest girl ever charged with terror offences in the UK. Her case raises serious questions about how UK agencies, including MI5, counter-terror police and the CPS, deal with children exposed to extremism.

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