London attack: Security services face ‘big investigation’ into how Khalid Masood slipped through net
The powerful watchdog that scrutinises the intelligence services is set to probe whether officials properly handled the case of Westminster attacker Khalid Masood. Sources close to Parliament s Intelligence and Security Committee told The Independent there would likely be a big investigation into whether the 52-year-old killer should have been better monitored after it emerged he was known to agents. They added that there would be a particular focus on whether lessons have been learnt from errors found in the way security services operated in the run up to the brutal murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby in 2013.
Concerns were also raised as to whether parliamentary security is adequately staffed, following a sizeable drop in the number of firearm-trained officers employed by the Metropolitan Police. It was reported that the officer who shot Masood, ending his rampage, was actually Defence Secretary Michael Fallon s personal bodyguard, who was only on the scene coincidentally. Theresa May told MPs in the Commons on Thursday that while Masood was known to security services, his case was historic and that officers did not believe him to be part of the current intelligence picture . Later in the day Home Secretary Amber Rudd said it would be wrong to say there had been an intelligence failure.
However, an official close to the ISC said: Masood had at one point been looked at by the intelligence and security services, but obviously it had gone dormant . That sometimes happens with these cases. Westminster attacker named as Khalid Masood
There is going to be a big investigation on this . It is always a worry for the intelligence and security services, when it comes to dropping cases, but they can t follow them all up.
At the end of the day they have to take a decision on each one, and they will now want a proper investigation of who knew what and when.
The committee is due to meet next week where the question as to whether it should launch an investigation or not will be raised. The group, chaired by former attorney general Dominic Grieve and filled with cross-party politicians from the Commons and Lords, can choose to launch an inquiry itself or it might be asked by Ms May to take the work on. In 2014 the committee conducted a far-reaching inquiry into the murder of Lee Rigby, killed a year earlier by Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale on the streets of Woolwich.
The committee insider said: It was a case, once again, where the people who had killed him had been looked at by the security services and there were recommendations.
It would be a fair assumption to say that the committee would look back at those recommendations with regards to this case. The 2014 report discovered a number of errors and made criticisms where processes were not being followed or decisions not recorded. Who are the victims of the Westminster attack?
The report concluded the errors did not necessarily mean Fusilier Rigby s murder could have been prevented, but it called for better procedures. It also highlighted the challenge of monitoring every single individual of potential interest that comes before the intelligence services. The report said: Clearly, MI5 must focus primarily on the highest priority individuals . However, that leaves a large group of individuals who may also pose a risk to national security, but who are not under active investigation.
Previous attempts by MI5 and the police to manage this group have failed: We have not yet seen any evidence that the new programme, established in late 2013, will be any better . This is an important issue and the committee will continue to take a close interest in it in order to ensure that the necessary improvements are made.
In a statement to MPs, Ms May said Masood was once investigated in relation to concerns about violent extremism, but said he was a peripheral figure . She added: The case is historic . He was not part of the current intelligence picture . There was no prior intelligence of his intent or of the plot.
Asked later if there had been a failure of intelligence, cabinet minister Ms Rudd said: I think that would be absolutely the wrong judgement to make . I m confident that as we get more information and I really can t be drawn any further on it at the moment that we will learn more and take comfort from the information that we have and the work that the intelligence services do. Scotland Yard later said Masood had previous convictions for assaults, including GBH, possession of offensive weapons and public order offences. Westminster terror attacker had been investigated by MI5 over violent extremism
His first conviction was in November 1983 for criminal damage and his last conviction was in December 2003 for possession of a knife.
He had not been convicted of any terrorism offences, but had been known by a number of aliases. Also in the Commons, former cabinet minister Theresa Villiers suggested it was time for all police who patrol areas known to be of interest to terrorists to be armed. Ms May argued that the level of security in Westminster had been enhanced significantly over her 20 years in Parliament, and that questions over whether individual officers should be routinely armed is an operational matter for the police.
Parliament holds a minute-long silence in memory of the victims of the Westminster attack
But former Met senior investigating officer Peter Kirkham raised concerns that there might have been a fall in the number of armed guards at the gates of Parliament where the Westminster attacker struck. He said: I m beginning to hear that there s been a reduction of armed officers at the Houses of Parliament.
Hence there wasn t armed officers specifically on that gate yesterday, it was in the presence of that yard . We ve heard that it was a protection officer that just happened to be there by chance.
Reports emerged on Thursday that the individual who shot Masood was Mr Fallon s Met close protection officer, raising questions as to whether another armed guard would have been on the scene if he were not. Police officers stand guard on Victoria Embankment following yesterday’s attack in London, England (ge)
The Met said it would not be appropriate to confirm the identity of any officer involved in a fatal firearms incident. But his intervention comes against the backdrop of broader falling numbers of firearms officers in the whole of London .
Official Home Office figures show they dropped by a quarter, from a high of 2,856 in 2010, to 2,139 last year. A source from Parliament s Joint Committee on Security told The Independent there had been no recent discussion about a reduction in the number of armed officers at Westminster. Any such reduction would need to be considered first by the committee, the source said, which is chaired by Deputy Leader of the Commons Lindsay Hoyle.
If there was a recommendation to cut the number of armed officers on the frontline at Parliament, we would be told about it, he added.
The security services1 successfully foiled more than 12 UK terror attacks2 last year, Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon3 has revealed. In the aftermath of the Westminster attack4, however, the Defence Secretary also admitted that Britain now faced a new type of lone-wolf, low-tech terror threat that was much more difficult to prevent. Speaking the day after a terrorist used a car to mow down pedestrians on Westminster Bridge before stabbing a policeman outside Parliament5, Sir Michael told BBC Radio 4 s Today programme: This kind of attack, this lone wolf attack, using things from daily life a vehicle, a knife is much more difficult to forestall.
We are also dealing with a terrorist enemy that is not making demands or holding people hostage, but simply wants to kill as many people as possible so this is a new element to international terrorism.
This is a new type of attack where somebody gets hold of a vehicle and drives it into innocent people that also shows the moral vacuity of these terrorists.
But he insisted that the security services were successfully foiling terror plots, saying: The police and agencies that we rely on for our security have forestalled a large number of attacks in recent years over a dozen last year. This seems a significant increase on some previously disclosed figures. In October, Neil Basu, deputy assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan police and the senior national co-ordinator for counter-terrorism policing, said the security services had successfully foiled at least 10 attacks in the last two years.
Suggesting the scale of the threat faced by the UK, Mr Basu added: We continue to work at a relentless pace with our key partners, currently dealing with around 550 live cases at any one time. One attempted plot, it was revealed last August, had been thwarted in the final hours before the planned attack on a UK target. An operation run by GCHQ, the British intelligence and security organisation, used interception warrants to monitor phones owned by individuals linked to the 2015 plot, it was reported.
According to the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, agents were then able to identify and intercept a would-be terrorist cell that was close to carrying out its plan. Answering questions about whether the security services had enough resources to deal with such levels of threat, Sir Michael Fallon revealed this had been reviewed at an emergency COBRA meeting chaired by Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday night. He said: We reviewed whether the Met had all the resources they need including military back up to deal with situations like this.
That is something we always review at the time.
There have been increases in the budgets of the security services over the last few years .
We will continue to keep that under review .
The police and the security agencies will have the resources they need.
- ^ security services (www.independent.co.uk)
- ^ terror attacks (www.independent.co.uk)
- ^ Sir Michael Fallon (www.independent.co.uk)
- ^ Westminster attack (www.independent.co.uk)
- ^ used a car to mow down pedestrians on Westminster Bridge before stabbing a policeman outside Parliament (www.independent.co.uk)
A Cambridge-educated law lecturer is forcing his Tesco1 security guard brother out of their 750,000 flat in Hampstead2 thanks to a contract they agreed at their local Costa. Filip Saranovic, 29, drew up papers for the property deal and explained the basics to his ill-educated brother, Nikola, 41 . He did not tell him about a clause allowed either sibling to force through the sale of the flat. Nikola, faced with being left without a home, challenged the legality of the deal . He claimed his younger brother, who was educated at Cambridge and Harvard and is now a lecturer in maritime law at the University of Southampton, had taken advantage of his trust.
However, a judge at Central London county court has ruled Filip did nothing wrong and that Nikola should have sought legal advice before signing. The brothers bought the flat in Holmdale Road in June 2014 with money given to them by their mother, discussing the deal at the coffee shop before signing documents drawn up by Filip. While Nikola was looking at the flat as a family home, his brother s primary reason for buying it was a lucrative plan to develop several attached garages.
Judge Michael Berkley agreed Nikola had no express knowledge of the sale clause and had relied on his brother to explain that important part of the transaction . But he ruled Filip had done nothing wrong and that Nikola, who is not a details man , hadn t paid enough attention to the papers he was signing. Rift: Nikola, pictured with his wife Bojana has now been given two months to vacate the flat (Richard Gittins/Champion News:)
Nikola, his wife Bojana and their four-year-old daughter have now been given two months to vacate the flat, and could face a 200,000 bill for the cost of the legal battle.
Judge Berkley found Filip, who owns two other flats in Cambridge and Southampton, had lived up to the duty of candour he owed his brother and was entitled to expect Nikola would take independent advice before signing. Under the terms of the deal, Nikola could live at the flat rent-free but a clause was inserted to allow either brother to force the sale of the property after a year. Martin Young, for Nikola, said the brothers previously enjoyed a good relationship but the legal battle had caused a deep divide in their family.
The flat at the centre of the row (Richard Gittins/Champion News)
What Nikola wanted all along was to keep the home that he thought would be his for as long as he wanted it, he said . Filip knew that Nikola was relying on him to know the nature of the document he was signing . He thought the flat was going to buy a home for him and his family for the foreseeable future . Jonathon Upton, for Filip, said: Nikola didn t ask anyone to explain the deed to him . He didn t read the covering letter . He didn t take any care. In his ruling, Judge Berkley said Nikola is not as dynamic as Filip and trusted his brother to explain the document, but was willing to sign whatever Filip told him to sign, provided that he had the basic impact explained to him .
I find that Filip chose not to explain the detail of the express power of sale and in particular the fact that either party could elect to sell the property against the other s wishes after a year.
I cannot find anything that Filip did wrong .
It is very unfair and inequitable to say that Filip asserted undue influence in anything that he did. The judge ordered that the flat can go on the market in a month to give Nikola and his family some time to adjust to the idea of leaving their home . He also said he would consider a written plea for a reduction of Nikola s costs from the court case, estimated at 200,000.