High Court grants bomb plotter challenge over parole

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Bomb plotter Nezar Hindawi, left, has won permission to bring a new High Court challenge in his long-running battle for parole.

The Jordanian national is serving a 45-year jail sentence for attempting to blow up an El Al passenger aircraft in 1986.

Hindawi, 57, planted the bomb in his pregnant fiancee’s hand luggage without her knowledge on a flight from London Heathrow to Tel Aviv. It could have killed 375 people but was found by security staff.

Hindawi faces deportation to Jordan when he is eventually released.

A Parole Board panel rejected his attempt for early release last December, despite previous panels recommending it.

The panel said that, although he could be safely released on licence and monitored in England, he posed a risk of making speeches or giving interviews encouraging or inciting terrorism if returned to Jordan, and the level of monitoring there was unlikely to be sufficient to reduce the risk.

Tim Owen QC, representing Hindawi, told the High Court the panel’s treatment of the evidence regarding Jordan was “irrational and grossly unfair”.

Mr Owen said the panel had criticised Justice Secretary Ken Clarke for failing to provide it with sufficient help in assessing the risk Hindawi might pose if released.

The panel said in its notice refusing parole: “The Secretary of State chose to adopt a position which the panel regarded as cynical, political in origin, very unhelpful in practice and at odds with the whole purpose of involving the Secretary of State in the parole process.”

Mr Justice Silber described the panel’s criticism as “very strong stuff”. Giving Hindawi permission to apply for judicial review of the parole refusal, the judge said several issues were “arguable”, including whether the board should have ordered Hindawi’s release in the UK, notwithstanding the existence of the deportation order.