HER brother-in-law Tony was peace envoy to the Middle East for eight unexceptional years; her half-sister Cherie is a barrister with a CBE. Perhaps because of these connections, news that Lauren Booth has become a poster girl for radical Islam has been met with surprise by many who knew her in the guise of lifestyle journalist and London socialite.
After a spiritual epiphany in an Iranian mosque, the daughter of actor Tony Booth and star of 2006´s I´m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here made the decision to convert to Islam in 2010. Some close to her have questioned the move, noting that it followed her very public divorce to Craig Darby and her second declaration of personal bankruptcy (the first being in 2007).
Cynics have pointed out that her conversion successfully resurrected an ailing career overnight, opening up a world of opportunities as a public speaker, broadcaster and human rights activist. Others describe this success as short-lived. Presenting work with Al Jazeera and Iranian network Press TV appears to have dried up after 2013.
More recently, her involvement with two controversial charities has raised eyebrows. As a patron of CAGE she will be aware of its pro-radicalisation activities on British university campuses and the support it has voiced for notorious Daesh killer Jihadi John. As a supporter of HHUGS, Lauren Booth is alleged to be campaigning for the families of known terrorists.
In 2012, she co-founded her own charity called PeaceTrail with 48-year-old Sohale Ahmed, the Muslim activist she would marry in an Islamic ceremony in 2013. The charity´s mission statement is to look after homeless Muslim women and children, and the organisation has had no shortage of generous donors, despite suggestions that both co-founders are in deep financial difficulty and rumors that PeaceTrail is close to being struck off by the Charities Commission, for failing to submit annual returns.
Ms Booth and Ahmed´s unlikely union has also set tongues wagging in the close-knit community of Heaton Mersey where they reside, with Ahmed still married to his ´legal´ wife Faiza, who also lives in the Stockport suburb and has accused Ms Booth of ´destroying her home´.
This undeniably messy situation perhaps mirrors Ms Booth´s own history, which has been colorful and chaotic since her childhood. The product of two alcoholic celebrities who never married, she has struggled to walk a regular path through life and seems forever drawn to unconventionality.