Independent : Sophie Heawood: Our police should behave better than we do7

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sophie Heawood: Our police should behave better than we do

April 19, 2009

Another week, another revelation about police brutality. A second postmortem has shown it was internal bleeding, not a heart attack, that killed Ian Tomlinson after he was attacked by police at the G20 demo in London, and now there's footage of Nicola Fisher being struck by police at a vigil for him.

Of course, attacks on police happen too, and theirs is not a job I envy. I don't imagine that people sign up to the force with the lofty ambition of being a thug. But I have been going on demos all my life and the unpalatable truth is that these assaults are commonplace. The police used to film demonstrators, to identify the trouble-makers later. Now that it is so easy to own a videocamera, the demonstrators are filming them – and for exactly the same reason.

I was five when my parents first took me on a CND rally. I had never seen so many people all together in one place – it blew my tiny mind. There was something wonderful about being part of a group of people like this, walking down a street filled not with beeping cars but with cheering, happy humans.

Later I would march about the miners, the poll tax, the criminal justice Act, the Liverpool dockers, the Iraq war – all causes I believed in, but also a wonderful excuse to go outdoors with other humans and celebrate being alive.

Alas, it always turns. Perhaps it starts with a stupid protester throwing a bottle at a police horse, or shouting in an officer's face that he's a filthy pig, or worse. The police move in on you, and the danse macabre begins, as they form a human pen so you're left in no doubt that it's you, the protesters, who are the pigs. You are squashed against each other, unable to leave, even if you're desperate for a pee or a drink of water. A policeman starts shoving you, you beg him to stop, ask him for his number. He tells you to fuck off.

You see somebody on the floor bleeding from the head and an officer still seems to be kicking him and you don't know what's going on and you're jostled and powerless to stop it.

Earlier this year, on a London march for Gaza, the police routed marchers on Piccadilly into the dark car tunnel underneath Hyde Park Corner. Surprised by what we saw happening ahead, my friends and I jumped over the railings into the park to avoid it. We were the lucky ones – most couldn't escape and were forced down into the darkness in their thousands. They were then held down there for some time – I will never forget hearing the screaming.

When they finally emerged at the other side, teenagers came running over to me, asking if I was a journalist, could I help them, the police had held them down there and then let rip with their truncheons, they said. It was chaos and I felt useless.

And so I didn't join the G20 demo where Ian Tomlinson died, even though it was on my doorstep and I wanted to protest about the banks. I was too frightened of what the police would do, and of feeling too vulnerable to intervene. Sadly, my fears were warranted. And if a journalist – who has a better chance than most of raising a dissenting voice – is scared of the police, then what hope has anybody else got?

It is a grave error to believe that for a police force to be successful, it must be terrifying. It is not good enough to say that after a day of provocation, those officers had had enough. They need to be beyond reproach. They need to be better than us.

Independent : Third allegation of police brutality at G20 investigated

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Third allegation of police brutality at G20 investigated

London demonstrator claims he was hit on the head and pushed near scene of Ian Tomlinson's death

By Emily Dugan | April 19, 2009

A third investigation into an allegation of police brutality at the G20 protests was launched yesterday by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC). A 23-year-old man from London claimed he was hit on the head and pushed to the ground the same day that Ian Tomlinson died following an attack by police.

The incident, which was referred to the IPCC by the Metropolitan Police, is understood to have taken place between 6 and 7pm on 1 April, at a police cordon on Cornhill in the City of London. The news came as the watchdog investigates the police's role in the death of Mr Tomlinson and an assault on demonstrator Nicola Fisher on 2 April. The IPCC says it has now received at least 185 complaints about police at the G20 protests, of which just under 90 are about the use of force.

The police officer caught on film attacking Mr Tomlinson moments before he died has now been interviewed on suspicion of manslaughter after a second post-mortem found the newspaper seller died from abdominal bleeding rather than a heart attack.

The news comes as police face growing criticism from politicians and campaigners for their handling of the G20 protests. Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesman Chris Huhne said yesterday that the party was calling for a full inquiry into policing of the protests, especially the tactics of the controversial riot policing unit, the Territorial Support Group (TSG). "It may be necessary to look more widely at the TSG and see whether it's appropriate for it to be so separate," he said. "There's a clear problem of discipline in this part of the Met which the commissioner needs to address urgently.

"It's very worrying that there have been repeated instances with officers not wearing identifying numerals. This is exactly the problem we had many years ago with the Special Patrol Group, which was exactly why it was disbanded."

Protesters warned that this year's May Day actions could be some of the most dramatic yet. The United Campaign Against Police Violence, a coalition of protest groups, formed in the wake of the G20 protests, met yesterday to discuss action. Chris Knight, a founding member, said: "We may feel the need to kettle a police station. We'd surround them completely and not let them in and out for 12 hours. We're trying to stop London on May Day in memory of all who died in police custody. If police officers haven't got the message at that stage, we may have to take it into our own hands."

Lindsey German of the Stop the War Coalition said: "I wouldn't be surprised if there were more people this year. People are disgusted over the policing of G20, and I think there's growing anger at the way the police are behaving in general." Tony Benn, who will be speaking at the May Day rally in Trafalgar Square, said: "I dare say it will be bigger this year because of everything that's happened."

Hundreds of demonstrators, including some dressed as the horsemen of the apocalypse, gathered outside the City of London police headquarters yesterday morning in protest at the police tactics used on 1 and 2 April.

Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti said that a root-and-branch review of policing is needed. "Things have come together at a particular moment and out of tragedy sometimes comes opportunity. We have got to make sure Mr Tomlinson did not die in vain. We're talking about a much broader culture of how the police deal with protests. There have been problems for some time but the G20 has highlighted it all."

Daily Express : MI5’S Grannies Fight al Qaeda

Sunday, April 19, 2009


MI5 feared a shopping area in Manchester was a prime target

By Gordon Thomas | April 19, 2009

MI5 used some astonishing new weapons in its action against suspected terrorists in the north of England last week.

Playing a leading role were teams of women who kept an eye on the suspects during the long investigation into what is believed to be the biggest campaign plotted by Al Qaeda since the London bombings.

Created by the Security Service’s A4 surveillance division, the teams were tested for the first time in the operation, code-named Pathway, which was directed by MI5’s 50-year-old head Jonathan Evans.

They worked in two groups: one, made up of 72 elderly women, the other, young mothers with babies in prams.

Both had undergone a crash course in surveillance techniques.

Some of the elderly women walked the streets of the northern cities where the suspects lived, ostensibly walking their dogs or going shopping.

But miniature recorders hidden in their hair or beneath a headscarf were monitored by surveillance vans nearby.

These were linked directly to another unit specialising in locating a suspect’s mobile phone by triangulating its signal between two or more transmission masts.

The recorders used by the “granny squad” were also linked to GCHQ, the Government eaves-dropping centre in Cheltenham, Gloucs.

The mothers’ prams were also wired for surveillance. Beneath the real babies was a range of recording equipment that turned the prams into self-contained mobile surveillance units.

A further development by the MI5 scientists was also used. This is a colourless chemical that can be “painted” on a suspect’s clothing.

Another MI5 team, known as ­BS-1, the Burglar Specialists, break into a suspect’s home and spray the long-lasting chemical on to a shoe, skirt, jacket or trousers, which can then be detected by specially trained dogs.

It was these dogs who pursued the 12 Pakistani students now in custody, as they photographed the smart shopping area in Manchester, which MI5 feared was to be a prime target.

It was the grannies who picked up crucial details of ­e-mails exchanged by suspects.

During the long operation, which culminated in MI5’s swoop last week, they filed regular reports to a committee of senior MI5 officials based in a sound-proof room in the Security Service’s headquarters in Thames House, London.

It was one of the young mothers pushing her baby through a Manchester street who picked up details of a possible attack over the Easter holidays.

Analysts who studied her tape noticed a reference to the arrest in December last year of suspected Al Qaeda terrorists in Brussels, who were said to be plotting to launch an attack against a two-day summit in the city.

That assault was never launched, however. One possible reason was that it had been replaced by the Manchester plot.

This had all the hallmarks of Rashid Rauf, one of Osama Bin Laden’s top terrorist plotters. He was the mastermind behind the London bombings in July 2005.

Last November, he was reportedly killed by a Hellfire missile fired from a pilotless Predator drone by the CIA on the Pakistan-Afghan border.

A shroud-covered body was removed from the rubble. It was purported to be Rauf, but that is now thought unlikely.

The young mother pushing her pram in Manchester had picked up a snatch of conversation that led GCHQ to believe that Rauf was still alive, probably in Pakistan.

He would almost certainly have pulled off the latest attack except for the undercover operation ­inadvertently exposed by Bob Quick, the Metropolitan police chief who was Britain’s senior anti-terrorist officer. The blunder cost Quick his job.

It may also have enabled details of Rauf’s plan to escape detection. MI5 boss Evans has told his officers that if Rauf is still alive: “The further we are from his last crime, the closer we are to the next.”

The News : British lawyer contacts arrested student’s family

Sunday, April 19, 2009

British lawyer contacts arrested student’s family

April 19, 2009

PESHAWAR: A British lawyer for Abid Naseer, one of the 10 Pakistani students arrested by the authorities in England on suspicion of involvement in a terrorist plot, contacted his family in Pakistan and informed his father about the well being of his son.

Nasrullah Jan Khattak, father of Abid Naseer, told The News on Saturday that British lawyer named Aden had twice phoned him from England on Thursday and Friday. “He told me that he had met my son Abid Naseer who is in police custody. He said Abid Naseer was well,” Khattak added. He said his family was still unsure about Abid Naseer’s fate.

According to Khattak, the family members of the other Pakistani students arrested in northwest England were also coming forward after hearing about the arrests. He reiterated that his son was innocent and had been wrongly implicated in the case.