Sky News : Security Leak Cost Terror Raid Cops 24 Hours

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Security Leak Cost Terror Raid Cops 24 Hours

April 9, 2009

The leaking of the plans for a series of raids across the North West forced officers to swoop 24 hours ahead of schedule, Greater Manchester Police have said.

Officers arrested 12 men in parallel raids at 10 addresses across Manchester, Liverpool and Clitheroe, Lancashire.

Operation Pathway was rushed into action early on Wednesday evening following Bob Quick's accidental breach of security.

Greater Manchester Police said concerns for public safety prompted the decision to bring the raids forward.

Chief Constable Peter Fahy said continuing as planned was "not an option" with the threat level at a "heightened status".

"This sort of work means we can't take risks," Mr Fahy said.

"The safety and security of local people is the most important factor in our operations."

While the raids are still on-going, Mr Fahy said there were no plans to raise the threat level and urged the public to continue their lives as normal.

"Nobody should feel any more at threat here in the North West or anywhere else in the country as a result of this operation," he said.

He also ruled out speculation surrounding potential terror targets in Manchester, which had been rumoured to include the city's Old Trafford football ground and Trafford Shopping Centre.

Mr Fahy said: "I would have no hesitation in using those locations."

The chief constable also said the dozen people arrested across the region would be interviewed "in due course".

He confirmed police were now evaluating the operation and the materials collected from at least 10 addresses - a process "expected to take a long time".

And he praised officers for their part in a "very professional operation up until now".

Chief Constable of Merseyside Police, Bernard Hogan-Howe, echoed his sentiment.

He said: "I would like to personally thank all the police officers and staff in Merseyside for their amazing responsiveness to yesterday's operation.

"Many officers went above and beyond their duties to make sure our city remains a safe place to live.

"In light of the decision to bring the operation forward, the flexibility and commitment shown by those involved is also to be commended - I am very proud of what they achieved."

Yesterday, witnesses at the city's Liverpool John Moores University said two Asian men in their mid to late-20s were held by armed police outside the main library on Maryland Street.

They described how the suspects were stopped while passing the main entrance and ordered to lie on the ground.

Students were held inside the library for up to 30 minutes as the two men were searched by officers before being taken away.

Craig Ahmed, 24, a business student from Maghull, Merseyside, said he saw around eight officers outside.

"One of them was armed and was pointing his gun at two men who were ordered to lie face down on the ground.

He said the detained pair "looked like students ... one was wearing tracksuit bottoms and a hooded top and the other had a Puffa-style jacket on".

Over in Manchester, witnesses in Cheetham Hill said they had seen two men had been arrested.

Bushra Majid, 33, a housewife, described seeing one man being hauled down the street by officers.

"I opened the door and four or five policemen were on top of a man," she said. "They were dragging him along the street and he had no shoes on.

"They shouted at me, 'Get inside. Get inside'. There was a policeman on each corner of the street. They were dressed in black and had machine guns.

In Clitheroe, Lancashire, up to 100 officers in around 50 vehicles swooped on the Homebase store and arrested two security guards as stunned work colleagues looked on.

Police simultaneously raided the nearby Brooklyn Guest House in Pimlico Road where the two men were staying.

Adam Howard, who lives opposite, said he was shocked at the arrests.

He said: "I saw about 15 officers go in the front and the back of the house. It was a bit of a shock. You don't expect this to happen in a market town."

Police said the dual searches in Clitheroe have now been completed.