Police cleared of terror suspect assault face misconduct review

Four policemen cleared of beating up a terror suspect must wait to learn if they will face misconduct hearings.

A jury took just an hour to acquit the officers of assaulting Babar Ahmad during an early morning raid at his home in Tooting, south London, in December 2003.

Scotland Yard said it would carry out a misconduct review to consider whether it should bring any disciplinary proceedings.

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Pc Roderick James-Bowen, 40, Pc Mark Jones, 43, Pc Nigel Cowley, 34, and Det Con John Donohue, 37, were found not guilty of attacking the suspect after a month-long trial at London’s Southwark Crown Court.

Speaking outside court their solicitor, Colin Reynolds, said they were looking forward to “getting on with their professional lives” and putting the “unfounded and unsubstantiated allegations” behind them.

He had told the jury that secret listening devices fitted in Mr Ahmad’s home had corroborated the police account of what happened, but had not previously been disclosed by the security services.

Mr Ahmad, 37, was arrested in the early hours of December 2 2003 on suspicion of leading a group that provided support for terror group al-Qaida and other fundamentalist networks.

He claimed in court that he was beaten, sworn at and had his Islamic faith mocked in an assault that began at his home and continued in a police van and at a police station.

But the four officers from the Metropolitan Police’s Territorial Support Group insisted that his injuries were either self-inflicted or caused legally when he was initially grappled to the ground.

In March 2009 Scotland Yard admitted that Mr Ahmad was subjected to violent assaults and religious abuse, and agreed to pay him £60,000 in damages, after he brought a personal injury case at the High Court.

But jurors yesterday rejected the prosecution case that the four policemen in the dock attacked the terror suspect.

After the verdicts, Mr Ahmad called on the Metropolitan Police to bring misconduct charges. In a statement read out by his father at a Press conference in central London, he said: “Today’s verdict means no police officer has been held to account for this abuse.

“Therefore I urge the Metropolitan Police to bring disciplinary proceedings against all officers who were personally involved in the assault – and those who turned a blind eye.”

Mr Ahmad was never charged in relation to his arrest but has spent nearly seven years in British prisons without trial awaiting extradition to the US for alleged terrorism offences.

He made a personal appeal to Prime Minister David Cameron to support his bid to be either put on trial in the UK or released.

The trial heard that the suspect’s arrest came 11 months after Det Con Stephen Oake was murdered in Crumpsall, Manchester, by terror suspect Kamel Bourgass.

Police chiefs briefed the arresting officers that Mr Ahmad was to be considered as dangerous as Bourgass.

Pc Jones told the court he and the other officers in his unit were told by their sergeant before the operation that the suspect had been trained by al-Qaida in armed and unarmed combat.

In evidence during the trial, martial arts expert Mr Ahmad admitted travelling to Bosnia three or four times to fight during the bloody 1992-95 war, but insisted he was not an “al-Qaida superman”.

After the verdicts, Judge Geoffrey Rivlin QC, the Recorder of Westminster, said he hoped Mr Ahmad’s situation would be resolved soon.

He told the court: “I express the hope that his ordeal as a man in detention in this country for a number of years without trial is brought to an end as soon as possible, either by his extradition or by his release.

“I would have thought should be a matter of concern to the public at large, quite apart from Mr Ahmad, that here is a man who has been in custody for literally years without knowing what his fate is to be.”

Mr Ahmad’s lawyer, Fiona Murphy, urged the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) to launch “effective” misconduct proceedings.