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Top terror cop caught showing secrets -

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Top terror cop caught showing secrets

The World Today - Thursday, 9 April , 2009 12:42:00

Reporter: Stephanie Kennedy

ELEANOR HALL: In a dramatic move in Britain authorities today brought forward a raid on 12
suspected terrorists because of concerns about a security breach.

One of Britain's most senior police officers has now apologised for an extraordinary blunder that
jeopardised the anti-terrorism operation. The operation involved raids on a number of locations and
was hastily brought forward once authorities became aware of the breach.

I spoke to our reporter Stephanie Kennedy in London a short time ago.

Stephanie what can you tell us about these arrests and the nature of the threat that these men
posed?

STEPHANIE KENNEDY: Well early in the evening armed officers raided eight locations in northwest
England. One of the locations was a university in Liverpool and just outside the library of the
university police swooped on two men in their early 20s. They were handcuffed and arrested and the
students were actually told to stay inside the library and away from the windows.

At the same time in the suburbs of Manchester a house was raided and three men were arrested. An
internet cafe was also searched and at a hardware store two security guards were taken in for
questioning.

All in all 12 men were arrested. The police have not actually said what the nature of the threat is
but there is speculation that it was a plot related to Al Qaeda.

ELEANOR HALL: And are these men British nationals?

STEPHANIE KENNEDY: No Eleanor. At least 10 of the men are Pakistan nationals and they're all here
on student visas and police say another man is a British national.

ELEANOR HALL: Now this raid was brought forward because of a security blunder by Britain's most
senior counter-terrorism officer. Tell us about that. What happened?

STEPHANIE KENNEDY: Well it doesn't get much worse than this Eleanor. The man in charge of Britain's
counter-terrorism operations, one of the highest-ranking officers at Scotland Yard, Bob Quick,
accidentally revealed details of the operation.

As he arrived at Downing Street for a briefing at the Prime Minister's office, he got out of his
car and he was snapped by photographers but he was holding a pile of files and on top of the files
was a clearly marked document with the word 'secret' and that document outlined the names of the
suspects, the locations of the raids and the chief police officers that were to be involved in the
operation.

Well when the police realised what had happened they stuck a 'D Notice' on the media. That's
literally a gag on the media. It's an agreement between the Government and the media not to publish
something that threatens national security.

But unfortunately it was too late. The photograph had already been distributed overseas so the
police had no choice but to launch the raid immediately.

Chris Grayling is the Conservative spokesman and he's highly critical.

CHRIS GRAYLING: And regardless of whether the cameras were there or not, nobody should be walking
up Downing Street with secret documents under their arm, visible to passers-by, visible to a
camera, with details of a sensitive operation on them. This is quite unacceptable. Huge question
marks over Bob Quick's judgement and his ability to do his job to be frank.

ELEANOR HALL: That's the Opposition spokesman on national security Chris Grayling.

Stephanie are police saying whether the raid was compromised by the release of this information and
the fact that the raid had to be brought forward?

STEPHANIE KENNEDY: Look the police aren't commenting on that at the moment but it quite frankly it
completely jeopardised the whole operation.

It's not known if the police had already collected enough evidence to charge the suspects but what
it meant was that police officers weren't prepared for the raids. Because the raids were brought
forward from a pre-dawn raid to a raid in the early evening, police really lost the element of
surprise.

Usually here in the UK when police launch raids they're always about 2am. They're never in broad
daylight. But this one was in broad daylight. It was early evening. There certainly was, you know,
there was, darkness had not yet fallen.

And this whole operation could have endangered people's lives. When these houses and properties and
the universities were raided men, police officers were armed and they were arresting potential
terrorists. So this was a very, very dangerous operation which was carried out in broad daylight.

ELEANOR HALL: And what does this mean for the future of Bob Quick, the man who revealed the
information?

STEPHANIE KENNEDY: Well needless to say people are calling for Mr Quick's head but at the moment
the Government is standing by him. The Government has been asked questions about this security
blunder but has so far refused to comment and no doubt the fallout from this case will consume the
Government for the next few days.

ELEANOR HALL: Stephanie Kennedy in London, thank you.