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Judge grounds Syria-struck girls

Five teenage girls who have shown an interest in going to Syria have been barred by a High Court judge from travelling abroad.

Mr Justice Hayden made the girls, two aged 15 and three aged 16, wards of court - a move which prevents them from leaving the jurisdiction of England and Wales.

He made the ruling at a hearing in London after Tower Hamlets local authority raised concerns.

The judge, who directed that the girls could not be identified, also made orders removing their passports and those of a number of adults involved in their care.

The judge said he made the order involving the adults because of evidence that, in at least one other case, young girls had travelled on passports belonging to members of their family.

More importantly, there was evidence suggesting that the family members in the case had not been full and frank with social services, and that the girls had been moving to a more radicalised position.

"It seems to me that that must have been known to the parents and they deliberately did not share it with the authorities who were keen to protect these vulnerable young girls."

The judge, who made a similar order in relation to a 16-year-old boy earlier this week, said that it was a "draconian" step, as was the removal of a passport.

"But the risk contemplated here is as grave as it can be for it is common knowledge that so many have lost their lives in Syria and so many have gone knowing that would be likely.

"As I said early this week in another case, and I repeat it in this, sometimes the law has to intervene to protect these young people, ultimately from themselves.

"Therefore I am satisfied there is evidence of sufficient cogency and the evaluation of risk is such as to justify the orders sought."

The girls and adults concerned, who were not in court today, can challenge the emergency ruling at a future date if they wish.

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