Police admit fabricating terror evidence
By Elham Asaad Buaras
The Muslim News UK
July 27, 2012
Documents released under the Freedom of Information Act has revealed that the police had “made up” evidence against a Muslim university student from the University of Nottingham who was detained without charge in August 2008 as a terror suspect. In yet another revelation, The Muslim News has seen a document in which a former counter-terror chief says that the same student would have been charged today under “resolved” terror laws.
The document from West Midlands police’s internal investigation concluded that officers made-up key parts of the case against Rizwaan Sabir who spent seven days in prison before being released without charge for downloading a manual available from a US Government website and most reputable online book retailers.
Sabir was researching his Masters on terrorism in 2008 when he downloaded an al-Qa’ida training manual. It was for that act alone that Sabir was detained under Section 41 of the Terrorism Act 2000 on suspicion of being involved in the “commission, preparation or instigation of an act of terrorism.”
In another document exclusively obtained by The Muslim News the former Head of West Midlands Counter-Terrorism Unit admits that the Crown Prosecution Service did not charge Sabir at the time due to a now defunct technicality.
In a meeting held last August Det Chief Supt Matt Sawers told a University of Warwick researcher that Sabir was not charged because “at the time there was significant uncertainty due to other cases” involving Section 58 of Terrorism Act 2006.
“Today those issues have been resolved and were the incident to occur again, charges would be brought under similar circumstances,” said Sawers.
Sabir told The Muslim News he was flabbergasted by Sawers’ confession.
“The law has now been cleared up; the police could charge me as a terrorist. This is irrespective of the fact that I am an innocent person, it showed that the police are not interested in a person’s innocence or guilt when they are accused of being a terrorist,” Sabir said.
The internal investigation into the affair was launched after a complaint by a former lecturer at the University of Nottingham Department of Politics and International Relations over the police’s handing of the case.
The police’s internal investigation concluded that officers “made up what he [Dr Rod Thornton] said about the al-Qaida manual” in a police interview.
During the interview Thornton said that he told police that Sabir was studying al-Qa’ida, but says that officers invented claims that he had concerns over the manual in an apparent attempt to justify the arrest.
It also states that the actual minutes of the Gold Group meeting of the detectives assigned to the case “incorrectly recorded” their conversation with Thornton.
Internal notes from the Gold Group meeting on May 17 2008 actually reveal police quoting Dr Thornton as believing the manual was a “tactical document” and could not be considered relevant to Sabir’s academic research into terrorism.
Dr Thornton has now referred the police treatment of him to the Independent Police Complaint Commission (IPPC). The Police Standards Board, however, says that no officers will be investigated for misconduct.
Dr Thornton said: “The police were totally unprofessional. After their mistakes they tried to cover them up. I’ve seen some altered police notes, I’ve seen evidence made up. The whole thing seems to be a complete tissue of lies, starting from the cover up of their mistakes in the first place.”
A spokesman for the IPCC confirmed to The Muslim News that they have received an appeal from Dr Thornton in relation to the West Midlands Police investigation into his complaint and “are presently gathering material to consider the appeal.”
The IPCC clarified that their role would be restricted to reviewing “the manner in which the police carried out the investigation to consider whether it was done appropriately, rather than re-investigate the complaint itself.”
West Midland police Chief Inspector, Julian Harper, from the force’s Professional Standards Department, said: “The complaints were thoroughly investigated by West Midlands Police’s Professional Standards Department and a detailed report of the findings was sent to the complainant on March 26.
“While certain aspects of his complaint were upheld, investigating officers found there was no case to answer in respect of misconduct.
“As is standard practice, we advised the complainant that he could appeal this decision through the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
“As he has chosen to take this course of action, it would be inappropriate for us to comment any further while the IPCC carry out their assessment.”
Sabir said West Midland Police conclusion that fabricated evidence does not warrant any disciplinary action was an indictment of a culture of impunity for police in the UK.
“It’s a simple reinforcement of the fact that UK police can go around doing as they wish without ever being held to account,” he said.
Sabir said trust between the Muslim community and the police would be reinstated only after the Home Secretary and the Policing Minister supported the findings of an independent inquiry into the case.
He also called for an apology to Dr Thornton and himself by West Midlands Police and Nottinghamshire Police “for the way we have both been treated.”
The latest revelations have spread into other high profile terror cases involving British Muslims.
Britain’s longest detained without charge prisoner Babar Ahmad, tweeted to Sabir: “they [the police] made it up for you & in my case, sent it to US. We are both British Muslims detained w/o charge, you for 1wk, me for 8yrs.”
Source: The Muslim News