Liverpool Echo : Jacqui Smith claims public safety was main factor in terror raids

Monday, April 20, 2009

Jacqui Smith claims public safety was main factor in terror raids

By Ian Hernon | April 20, 2009

HOME Secretary Jacqui Smith today claimed that "public safety" was the main factor in terror raids across Merseyside and the wider region earlier this month.

In a Commons statement she refused for "operational reasons" to be drawn on thye nature of the bomb plot allegedly underway when 12 suspects were seized.

Speculation has centred on Liverpool, a Manchester shopping centre and a night club as the primary targets.

She said: "These arrests were pre-planned as the result of an ongoing joint police and security service investigation.

"The decision to take action was an operational matter for them, but the prime minister and I were kept fully informed of developments.

"The priority at all times has been to act to maintain public safety."

Ms Smith also denied that the April 8 raids were compromised by the blunder by anti-terrorist chief Bob Quick, who has pictured in Downing Street carrying clearly visible briefing papers of the impending Operation Pathway.

She said that because of the gaffe the police brought forward the raids.

"The fact that these papers were inadvently made public did not make any difference to the decision to carry out arrests - it simply changed the timing by a matter of hours," she added.

Of those arrested 11 remain in custody and have had their detention extended to Wednesday. The 12th is an Afghan who is now in the hands of the immigration authorities and is expected to be deported.

Ms Smith praised all those involved in the operation, including Merseyside Police, saying: "They are to be commended for [the] professional manner in which they carried out the arrests."