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Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Terror Operation in Jeopardy After Senior Officer's Error

Twelve men have been arrested in the North West of England after Britain's most senior counter-terrorism officer, Assistant Commissioner Bob Quick (pictured below with the document in question), exited a car with a document marked 'top secret' on full display to photographers.

The document clearly showed lists of suspects and premises to be raided, investigating officers and information on Britain's state of terror alert and the threat from overseas

It is believed that the raids have been brought forward because of the basic mistake, and if there is little time to gather evidence then the outcome may well be jeopardised.

Ten of the twelve arrested are Pakistani nationals on student visas. Below you can see footage the arrest of two men outside a university library in Liverpool:

The BBC has more:

Assistant Commissioner Bob Quick said he "deeply regretted" revealing a secret document to photographers when he arrived for a briefing at No 10.

The document, clearly marked "secret", carried an outline briefing on an ongoing counter-terrorism operation.

The 12 suspects were later arrested at locations across north-west England.

It is understood the raids at eight addresses took place sooner than planned due to the documents being revealed.

Opposition MPs were swift to criticise Mr Quick, with the Liberal Democrats describing him as "accident prone" and the Conservatives condemning his "extraordinary and very alarming" lapse of judgement.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith made no comment about Mr Quick's mistake. Instead, she praised police for their professionalism.

"The decision to take such action was an operational matter for the police and the security service but the Prime Minister and I were kept fully appraised of developments," she added.

Some hours after the Downing Street incident, two men outside the main library at Liverpool
John Moores University were arrested by armed officers from the North West Counter-Terrorism Unit.

Other students said they heard police shouting at the two suspects, then saw them lying face down on the floor.

Witnesses said they were advised over the library loudspeaker to stay away from the windows for their own safety.

Journalism student Daniel Taylor said: "I saw a man on the floor. Police were shouting at him and one of the officers had what looked like a machine gun pointed right into his head."

Police wearing blue plastic gloves were searching the man, along with a second man nearby, and both appeared to be "ordinary students", Mr Taylor said.

Ten of those arrested are Pakistan-born nationals on student visas and one is a UK-born British national.

Their ages are not entirely known but range between a teenager who is in his mid-to-late teens and a 41-year-old man.

Greater Manchester Police said several hundred officers were involved in the operation, including armed officers during some of the arrests.

Earlier on Wednesday press photographers in Downing Street pictured Mr Quick clutching a white document marked "secret" and containing the names of several senior officers, locations and details about the nature of the overseas threat. Details of the information revealed cannot be reported.

Mr Quick was attending the meeting in his role as lead for counter terrorism and for the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo).

On Wednesday evening he apologised to Met Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson for the error.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: "Assistant Commissioner Quick accepts he made a mistake on leaving a sensitive document on open view and deeply regrets it.

"He has apologised to the Commissioner and colleagues."
Shadow home secretary Chris Grayling said Mr Quick's judgement had been called into question.
He told the BBC: "The exposure of this document is alarming and quite extraordinary

"The information on the document gave quite a lot of details that was going on. This was highly sensitive information that should not have been carried under an arm in front of a line of photographers."


Dr.D said...

This is pretty amazing! I would have thought that it would be a standard security requirement that all secret materials would be in an unmarked envelope contained inside a briefcase. This would be US military practice. Evidently things are quite a bit different in the UK! Wow!

MK said...

"Home Secretary Jacqui Smith made no comment about Mr Quick's mistake."

How can she, with her record of stuff ups, glass houses, stones, she who has not sinned....