Last July the Independent on Sunday reported that the National Association of Muslim Police had delivered a letter to the home secretary, Theresa May, expressing their concerns about the targeting of their members by the English Defence League, and in particular about the case of an EDL member who had been arrested in 2010 in possession of explosive devices and a list of Muslim police officers’ names.
As a result of an FOI request Richard Bartholomew has acquired a copy of the letter, which was evidently written by NAMP president Zaheer Ahmad, and he has published the relevant section:
Last year the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) arrested a man who was actively gathering intelligence/information on serving Muslim Officers including myself and other senior NAMP executive members. According to MPS he was in possession of a quantity of fireworks/Devices, neither NAMP nor any of other persons targeted have or were ever made aware of the full extent of this enquiry e.g. explosives and other enquiries to date. The police also found partial addresses and surveillance videos on his computer, this would suggest that he was undertaking reconnaissance activities. At the time were told that the man arrested was a lone wolf and not linked to any organisations. It took us just a few minutes of basic internet research to establish that this individual has links with the EDL and has attended EDL rallies and meetings, which we brought to the attention of MPS. He was released with any bail conditions and no risk assessment was carried out. This individuals is still of concern to us and we are not aware whether he is still subject to any ongoing intelligence work by SO15 or whether he has been referred to the National Domestic Extremism Unit for intelligence purposes or de radicalisation programme.
The investigation by Specialist Operations (SO) was very poor and dismissive of our concerns… It took the intervention of ACPO officers to inject a degree of seriousness into the investigation. However, sadly the investigation did not lead to charges being brought forward… MPS advised us that a file was sent to Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and they have advised no further action be taken. Earlier this year we had the opportunity to meet senior officials from CPS, we were extremely upset and disheartened to learn that they have no recollection of giving MPS advice on this particular case.
James Brokenshire, the parliamentary under secretary for crime and security, replied on behalf of the home office:
The MPS is extremely disappointed with the inaccurate assertions made in Mr Ahmad’s letter, including issues around the quality and conduct of the investigation and the lack of referral to the CPS. However we do understand that the concerns raised by Mr Ahmad need to be addressed. A senior officer from the Counter Terrorism Command has already been in touch with him and a meeting has been arranged for September, during which we will address the allegations and hopefully provide him with the necessary assurances.
Richard Bartholomew suggests that the reason for the failure to take action against the EDL may have been that a police spy was involved. A more likely explanation is that it reflected the Met’s refusal to accept that the EDL is a violent extremist organisation.
After all, in 2009 the then Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Sir Paul Stephenson, stated that the MPS took the position that the EDL were “not viewed as an extreme right wing group in the accepted sense”. When he took over as co-ordinator of the National Domestic Extremism Unit at Scotland Yard in 2010, DCS Adrian Tudway expressed the same opinion. In April last year Tudway wrote that the EDL were “actively moving away from the right and violence”. This was in an email to a Muslim group whom he advised to “open a direct line of dialogue” with this mob of far-right anti-Muslim thugs as it would be “the best way to engage them and re-direct their activity”.
As Zaheer Ahmad of NAMP commented: “There is a strong perception in the Muslim communities that the police service does not take the threat of right wing extremism seriously.”
Update: See “Charlie Flowers and NAMP’s ‘Unresolved Investigation'”, Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion, 14 June 2102