Clitheroe Advertiser : MEP's concerns following anti-terror operation

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

MEP's concerns following anti-terror operation

April 29, 2009

AN MEP from the Ribble Valley has raised serious questions about the Government's immigration policy and the way in which the arrests of the 12 men across his North West constituency were handled.

Conservative MEP Sajjad Karim, a member of the sub-committee on human rights, was reacting to news that all 12 men arrested in the counter-terrorism raids, including two in Clitheroe, had been released without charge, but 11 – all Pakistani nationals – were expected to be deported.

Mr Karim, who lives in Simonstone, said it was "extremely disconcerting" that the investigation led by the police and based on intelligence which Gordon Brown described as no less than a "serious terrorist plot", had revealed insufficient evidence to prove any terrorist involvement of the men arrested.

He claimed it brought into question the reliability of the intelligence gathered by the Government's sources and the way in which the response to it was handled.

Mr Karim said it also demonstrated that the extension from a 28-day detention was not necessary, but in fact would be unworkable, bureaucratic and unhelpful.

Furthermore, Mr Karim claimed the case had raised serious questions about the UK's immigration policy and the procedures surrounding security checks on foreign students. The Government has admitted that student visas serve as major loophole in the UK's border controls.

Commenting from the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Mr Karim said: "I am extremely concerned by the recent revelations regarding Operation Pathway. Firstly, the Government needs to close any loopholes in immigration policies that allow people of any origin to enter the UK, who could potentially pose a national security threat.

"Furthermore, the Prime Minister's remarks about the nature of the apparent threat that the men arrested posed now seem entirely fruitless given that evidence to prosecute the men has been insufficient.

"Not only are our immigration policies and procedures failing us, but the Government and its agencies are playing with the lives of these individuals and deporting them to cover their own backs."