WSJ : Police Fail to Charge U.K. Terror Suspects

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Police Fail to Charge U.K. Terror Suspects


LONDON -- British authorities will seek to deport 11 of the 12 men arrested in a recent counterterrorism raid after failing to find enough evidence to charge them, police said Wednesday.

Nine of the 12 were released from police custody Tuesday, and two others were released on Wednesday. One man was released shortly after the raid. In all, 11 of the 12 have been handed to the U.K. Borders Agency, which handles immigration.

The move is a significant disappointment in a case that U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown said reflected a major terrorist threat. The men were arrested earlier this month in a sweeping action across northwest England that rounded up a dozen men -- 11 of them Pakistani nationals, the other a U.K. national of Pakistani descent. Britain's domestic intelligence agency, MI5, worked with local police in executing the raid.

The April 8 raid attracted attention because it was hurriedly carried out after Bob Quick, the top counterterrorism official at the Metropolitan Police Service, inadvertently revealed details of the operation. Mr. Quick was photographed entering No. 10 Downing Street carrying documents that clearly identified key aspects of the operation.

Mr. Quick resigned the next day. Earlier this week, U.K. Home Office Minister Jacqui Smith said that the raid had been brought forward only by a matter of hours by Mr. Quick's mistake.

The decision to now seek deportation of the men could set up a lengthy legal battle if they seek to fight removal to Pakistan.

"This has been an extremely complex investigation that has involved officers working closely with other agencies to gather and examine large amounts of evidence," Chief Constable Peter Fahy, of the Greater Manchester Police said in a statement.

Police said late Tuesday that they are still sorting through aspects of the case. "Officers are continuing to review a large amount of information gathered as part of this investigation. Investigations of this nature are extremely complex," a police spokesman said.

The Home Office said Tuesday that, while the police weren't charging the men, they are seen as a threat to the U.K.

"We are seeking to remove these individuals on grounds of national security," a spokeswoman said. "Where a foreign national poses a threat to this country we will seek to exclude or to deport," the spokeswoman said, adding that the U.K. was working with Pakistani authorities on the deportation.

Write to Alistair MacDonald at and Carrick Mollenkamp at