Respect leader Salma Yaqoob condemns plans to deport 11 Pakistani men innocent of alleged involvement in a terror plot:
“Everybody in the Muslim community understands that the police have to act if they suspect a terrorist threat. We also understand that innocent people might occasionally be arrested and subsequently released. That is the nature of policing.
But these recent arrests are indicative of a worrying pattern developing.
Firstly, far too many of the most high profile raids and arrests lead to no charges at all. The release of these 11 Pakistani men and one Briton without charge follows February’s high-profile arrests and detentions and release without charge in the north-west of nine men on unspecified overseas intelligence linked to a supposed terrorist activities outside Britain. Some of those arrested were in act from a convoy taking medicines, computers, toys and such to Gaza – all were innocent. And in the past we have also had lurid allegations about terrorist plots to blow up Old Trafford football stadium, the so-called ‘ricin’ plot and the police raids and shooting in Forest Gate East London of a supposed ‘bomb factory’– all claims later shown to be unfounded.
Secondly, there is a real danger that manner in which these raids are dealt with by the politicians is both prejudicial to any notion of a fair trail and also damaging to community relations.
When the government starts talking about ‘a very big terrorist plot’ before any case goes to court they show contempt for fair legal process and undermine the principle of ‘innocent until proven guilty’.
When policing is conducting is such a high profile way in the media in advance of any trial it creates sensationalist headlines. This climate of fear damages relations between the Muslim communities and other communities and undermines trust between Muslim communities and the Police.
The trend of trial by politicians and media has to be reversed. This means politicians and police officers refraining from premature briefings before cases have come to court where actual evidence can be evaluated. Such restraint in one stroke would not only restore the principle of innocent until proven guilty, but would help restore confidence in the government and police.
These 11 men should now be allowed to rebuild their lives. Given that they have been released without charge it is a further smear on their characters and extension of their horrendous ordeal that they are facing deportation with more unsubstantiated claims hanging over them”.