Politically Timed “Terror” Arrests – the Real Bob Quick Scandal 114

The mainstream media is in a flurry of excitement over the “Terror” arrests of students in the North West of England. Linked to this is the media feeding frenzy over the resignation of Bob Quick, Scotland Yard’s anti-terror chief. It is important to note that the Quick incident only brought forward the arrests by a few hours. Yet in all the acres of coverage in the newspapers, and all the hype on TV, nobody seems to have noticed the real story.

It was an accident that Bob Quick had his secret document on display as he was photographed entering Downing St.

But it was no accident that he was photographed entering Downing Street.

No 10 is a Tardis-like building which is far more impressive inside than out, and which seems impossibly large. Its secret is that it links straight through to No 11 and, more importantly, through to the huge Cabinet Office building that runs along Whitehall. The Cabinet Office is the central secretariat of the British government and in effect the office of the Prime Minister. The separation of the No 10 staff and the Cabinet Office staff is a polite fiction. The government’s major interdepartmental committees meet in the Cabinet Office, including the sexy Joint Intelligence Committee and its sub-committees. One of the fascinating things about the vast Cabinet Office building is that it incorporates parts of the original fabric of the Tudor Whitehall Palace.

In the first Iraq War I used to hand carry intelligence reports to No 10, and sometimes had to explain them personally to Mrs Thatcher. I never once took one in the front door. In fact I have only ever walked in the front door of No 10 when accompanying a foreign dignitary or attending a party. The front door is for people the government wants to be seen ?” hence the permanent stand of photographers which captured Bob Quick. People arriving to brief on secret matters go in through the back door, or more likely through the Cabinet Office.

So why did the government want us to see that Bob Quick was entering No 10? The only possible answer is that, had things gone more smoothly in the arrest of the “Terror suspects”, the government would have paraded the footage of Quick entering no 10 as evidence that it was really Glorious Gordon and Genius Jacqui who had directed the operation and saved the world – again.

It is very, very wrong ?” it violates the whole spirit of the constitution ?” for politicians to be involved in arresting people. If the police had real evidence that these people are terrorists, then of course they should have been arrested when the Police felt the right moment had come. That moment is when they have sufficient evidence, and are not putting the public at risk by undue delay. That is a technical decision requiring skill, expertise and experience in operational policing.

It is a matter of the criminal law. It is absolutely not the business of Jacqui Smith and Gordon Brown. But we know that under New Labour the politicians are deciding who should be arrested and when. We know that for sure because then Home Secretary John Reid said in terms that he decided when the arrests should be made in the farcical “Bigger than 9/11”, (though in the event non-existent), “Liquid airplane bomb plot” case.

If politicians are going to decide the timing of arrests, then they cannot be surprised or aggrieved if we suspect that the timing of arrests is political.

This was definitely the case in the “Liquid Bomb Plot”. I know for certain from my own sources that in that case the intelligence services believed they had been forced by politicians to act too soon. That was quite widely reported at the time.

The view that John Reid had acted too early appears proved by a complex series of verdicts brought in by the jury. Less than half of those arrested actually were brought to trial. The jury found that three of the accused did have an intention to commit terror, but had formed no definite plan and specifically cleared them of the charge of planning to down aeroplanes with explosives.

Why had Reid jumped the gun? Because the Americans asked him to. With Bob Quick’s predecessor, the disgraced Andy Hayman, giving an official Scotland Yard view that the “Liquid Bomb Plot” was “Bigger than 9/11″ and involved plans to fly up to a dozen passenger jets simultaneously into different US cities, the resulting worldwide front page headlines were a Godsend for Bush in mid-term elections. They also enable the government to permanently ramp up the fear factor by the ludicrous toothpaste and shampoo searches that make flying so miserable.

In the liquid bomb plot do you remember the massive banner headlines ?” the full front page of every single tabloid in the UK -about the evil Muslim mother who planned to blow up herself and her baby along with the plane? There was no media reporting at all when she was cleared and released. The “Suspicious chemical” which police announced they had found in baby bottles was, errr, baby bottle sterilising solution.

The reasons why these “Terror raids” might be the subject of political timing could not be more obvious. Both Jacqui Smith and Gordon Brown were getting a well-deserved media pasting over the outrageous ripping off of the taxpayer for personal benefit through expense claims. The Metropolitan Police were under extreme criticism for their unprovoked killing of Ian Tomlinson.

So this morning, instead of the news headline being the disgraceful fact that the policeman who launched an unprovoked assault from behind on Ian Tomlinson has still not been arrested, the headline is that the police have saved us all from certain death.

Let me be plain. I am not saying that terrorism does not exist. I am not saying that those arrested are innocent. I do not know. I am saying that Brown and Smith’s involvement in operational police arrests, and the fact that less than 1% of those arrested under anti-terror legislation in the UK have ever been charged with anything connected to terrorism, gives me the right to be suspicious of what is undeniably, at the very least, politically very fortuitous timing.

It is also the arrest of alleged terrorists from Pakistan, at a time when the government is under both parliamentary and criminal investigation for participation in torture of terrorist suspects in Pakistan. The government has responded by arguing that intelligence from torture abroad is necessary to save lives in the UK. I have no doubt that we will find the government arguing that this “terror plot” justifies their case.


Because of this suspicion, I will be setting a high test for evidence that these arrests really were needed at this time. The accusation is that a bombing campaign was ready for this Easter ?” ie now. If that is true, there must be explosives and detonators ready, or in the very final stages of preparation. We will see.

According to Sky News this morning, police searches so far have discovered photographs of leading buildings in Manchester taken by the students.

I studied Russian in St Petersburg. I have photographs I took of the Hermitage, of the Church on the Holy Blood, of the St Peter and Paul Fortress, of the bridges over the Neva, of the ornate underground stations. I studied Polish in Lublin. I have photographs of Lublin castle, of the main shopping street, of the Catholic University of Lublin…

I have, in fact, photographs of prominent buildings everywhere I ever studied. And photographis in bars and nightclubs.

Why do the police feel the need to feed out to the media the complete non-news of the non-evidence that they have discovered photographs of Manchester in Manchester? Why was it necessary for the Prime Minister to make a statement announcing the arrests? What does that do to the chances of a fair trial? Why was it never necessary to make a prime ministerial statement every time a suspected Irish terrorist ?” and remember they really did blow up the Arndale Centre in Manchester ?” was arrested?

There are many genuine and diligent people carrying out counter-terrorism work in the police and intelligence services, working the old-fashioned way with painstaking accumulation of evidence. They do save lives and they should be applauded and supported. They should be free from political interference and distanced from politicians.

They may have foiled a genuine plot here. If so they must be congratulated. The Home Secretary ?”who has not foiled any plots – should have been briefed after arrests were made, and there should be no room for suspicion that politicians had interfered.

That would have stuck to the cardinal rule of only telling people who actually have to know about an operation – and the rule of not carting around secret documents for no purpose.

The photo leak ?” which could indeed have jeopardised a security operation which may or may not prove to have been vital – was caused directly by the excessive and completely unnecessary involvement of the politicians in policing detail.

A police state is not a state where the police rule. It is a state where there is no distance between the politicians and police.

A police state is a state where a policeman can be caught on camera launching an unprovoked fatal assault from behind, yet not be arrested. A police state is a state where the police raid the parliamentary offices of opposition MPs. A police state is a state where it is the politicians who are making the decisions on who gets arrested and when.

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114 thoughts on “Politically Timed “Terror” Arrests – the Real Bob Quick Scandal

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  • JimmyGiro

    I agree with most of what you conclude, but when you say “A police state is not a state where the police rule.”, I would suggest that petty bureaucracies will endeavour to build their little empires amongst us as they emulate their masters, a collateral consequence of a ‘police state’, is the police attempting to rule by proxy.

    They even use similar templates such as ‘quota filling targets’ to justify their malfeasance:


  • MJ

    If people attending No. 10 usually enter by the back door, and the timing of these raids and the associated media brouhaha is so fortuitous, can we really be certain that Quick’s lapse was really an accident?

  • Jaded

    ‘It was an accident that Bob Quick had his secret document on display as he was photographed entering Downing St.’

    That’s the only bit i’m unsure about. I wouldn’t be surprised if this raid wasn’t imminent, if to happen at all, and needed bringing forward. However, I could of course be wrong. It’s easy to look for more stink when all you see is stink and I wouldn’t apologise for having that attitiude.

  • xsdogskin

    Intelligent piece, with clear argument written with the knowledge of personal experience.

    I think this was a particularly ham-fisted attempt of the government to make political capital from these arrests. I expect that no physical evidence will be found, let alone substantive charges.

    It seems to have backfired at a very early stage. Brown and Smith holders of high office are little better than laughing stocks.

  • ruth

    A police state is also when the judiciary conspire with the government agencies to cover up illegal acts by these agencies undertaken at the behest of the government

    as in Lockerbie, excise and VAT fraud cases.

  • punterhunt

    When there is a plot by a white supremicist or a fanatical jewish, I mean Zionist terrorist to blow up a mosque or a STWC meeting I hope the police arrest those involved. Even if the wrong arrest was made at least it would deter the real terrorists from the attack.

  • William

    This is an excellent post, Craig. As soon as I heard of these raids I thought it was a rather “good day to bury bad news” and replace that news with something else. Where is Jo Moore these days?

    By another coincidence the five people arrested in Plymouth a week ago as part of an “anti-terror” investigation relating to the G20 have all now just been released without charge. No surprise there then.

  • craig


    “Even if the wrong arrest was made at least it would deter the real terrorists from the attack”.

    What complete drivel. Let’s arrest you then. Might deter real terrorists.

  • Charles Crawford


    This is just too much. Are you being serious?

    As an FCO official I have walked through the front door of No 10 on my own on numerous occasions to meet No 10 officials, watching with amusement the looks of the bored media folk on the other side of the street who no doubt were wondering who I was. So your whole thesis promptly collapses.

    Maybe back in the days when you were a fairly junior official briefing Lady Thatcher (before they put up the elaborate railings and security barriers?) things were different, ie officials were expected to use a different entrance.

    Now if you are on the No 10 visitors’ list you just show up at the main police entrance to Downing Street and walk to the front door. You press the bell and a policeman opens the door, checks your name and rings the person you are visiting to come and collect you. 100% prosaic.

    In the Bob Quick case, he may have wanted to look important for vanity reasons. But to look at the quite uninteresting fact that he used the front door and then assert that ‘the only possible answer’ is that he arrived at that entrance for later TV management reasons (and/or that it shows that politicians are involved in deciding the timing of arrests)is beyond ridiculous.

    You maybe should apologise for misleading your readers.



  • Jaded

    ‘But to look at the quite uninteresting fact that he used the front door and then assert that ‘the only possible answer’ is that he arrived at that entrance for later TV management reasons (and/or that it shows that politicians are involved in deciding the timing of arrests)is beyond ridiculous.’

    Well, whether he usually would have gone through the front door or back door is a moot point for me. My view is even if he would have normally go in through the back door – and this could have changed as you have indicated, I know not – he still would have been made to go in through the front door. The purpose of his visit was to leak the papers is my view. I would also aver that he was under direct instruction to do this. Furthermore, I would say that in some cases, and I see this as one of those cases, politicians will definitely be secretly involved in the timing of arrests. I think you are being a little naive. Do you think the intelligence community pushed the issue and timing of wmd on the government or vice versa? Thats exactly the same principle, albeit on a huge scale. If Craig finds he was ‘innocently mistaken’ i’m sure he will apologise for being ‘innocently mistaken’. Don’t mean to speak for you Craig, just speaking my kind. Obviously you will make your own response.

  • craig


    Your experience is different from mine -but then modesty never was your strong suit.

    I am not claiming there was a postive rule prohibiting entrance by the front door. But if you were carrying secret documents around and giving intelligence briefings it always seemed to me sensible to be as discreet as humanly possible. All of us involved in the aspect I was involved in at the time – from the invasion of Kuwait until the war proper – did the same thing. That included people up to the highest levels, so it wasn’t anything to do with my being “Junior”, though glad to see your snobbery still kicking as ever. Your blog posting about your being the only man ever to have held four Ambassadorial posts before the age of 53 years and seven months kept me laughing for weeks.

    None of which affects my argument that Quick had no business to be consulting the Home Secretary and Prime Minister in advance of the Manchester arrests.

    Do you never get tired of arguing for the government Establishment now you have retired from their formal employment?

  • mary

    I have just skimmed CC’s Blogoir. How pretentious and what a load of (boring)twaddle. Why is he so bitchy about Craig?

  • anticant

    The really interesting question about the intelligence services and their political “masters” is who controls whom? It’s plain to anyone who’s read Peter Wright’s “Spycatcher” that some pretty nutty characters find their way into spookery. And they’ve doubtless got files on all senior politicians, and maybe on royalty too, containing some highly inconvenient facts [or fictions] which their subjects wouldn’t wish to see the light of day….

  • Jaded

    I don’t know if anyone has seen this, but I would urge everyone to watch it.


    What DeCamp says between 2.18-2.33 is key to your point anticant. Also, although the video is centred on one theme and one chain of events it speaks volumes about a corrupt system/systems. That is the best quality version on the net as far as I am aware. However, it misses the last few minutes for some odd reason. Just catch the last few minutes here. Blew my mind when I first saw this. Didn’t seem real.


  • Jess

    Good post, Craig. Thanks

    Posted by: Strategist at April 10, 2009 1:42 PM

    That will be remembered.

  • craig


    Are you making some kind of threat towards Srategist? What a peculiar person you are.

  • Jess

    To the person Stephen who repeatedly posts Mr Murray’s articles on Medialens, relating to the officer involved not having been interviewed yet.

    The media are reporting that he collapsed upon hearing the news that he was in the video and was taken to hospital by his wife who found him on the floor. That seems to be the main reason for the delay.

    The IPCC confirmed last night that the Met have not lied or misled anyone about this case, so you can rest assurred that you have been served well. There is absolute zero evidence of a cover up.

    I know we are all interested in there being a proper and fair investigation, and possibly a fair trial if it gets to that, so we should all stop speculating and making assertions until we have all the facts.

  • Jess

    “Are you making some kind of threat towards Srategist? What a peculiar person you are”

    No, it will be remembered that he responded by saying “good post” to the most outrageous and utterly absurd conspiracy theory. The idea that seperate police forces in another part of the country moved an incredibly sensitive and complex anti terror opertion, and that the head of counter terror deliberately got himself fired, all to put this incident where a heart attack victim was pushed over by the Met in London, only to second place on the news, is quite clearly insane.

  • craig


    Plainly he was aware that he had hit Mr Tomlinsom with a baton – it was a deliberate act, not an involuntary one. So his shock at being on the video was merely shock at being caught on a tape that the Police could not destroy. Forgive me if I am not overcome with sorrow at his alleged medical condition.

    We would undeed all love to see a fair and proper investigation. Any notion that we will get one from the IPCC is nonsense. Anyway this should not be a matter for the IPCC. The man should be facing criminal charges of at least manslaughter.

  • Jess

    The liquid bomb plotters were convicted, of course, so who knows what you are going on about there.

  • craig


    You are reading another blog. I do not believe Quick deliberately showed the paper to the media – I think it was an accident. If you think very hard you will be able to deduce that from the sentence:

    “It was an accident that Bob Quick had his secret document on display as he was photographed entering Downing St.”

    Frankly you are a very poor Nulab troll indeed.

  • Greengorilla47

    As well as the reasons Craig gives for the political nature of this ‘terror raid’ there might be another: The British public is being massaged in preparation for an all-out USUK attack on Pakistan. And just two days ago there was a Pakistani politician on BBC News claiming that it is the intention of the US –and by association the UK– to break-up Pakistan.

    So it appears that the ‘terror raid’ might have served many purposes.

    As soon as I hear the bogeyman ‘Al Qaeda’ mentioned I know we are dealing with a hoax. People who keep talking about Al Qaeda have either been taken in by the post-911 ‘War on Terror’ propaganda or, like Frank ‘Goebbels’ Gardner, are deliberately seeking to perpetuate a myth.

  • Jess

    A lot of people were hit with batons that day. I don’t find it totally unbelievable that the officer only found out it was him upon watching the video. But regardless, personally I don’t see how that could be the cause of the man’s death given Tomlinson walked away from the incident, and we do not know all the circumstances. I will wait for all the facts. You are just using this case to spreading loony tune conspiracy theories so you quite clearly don’t give a toss.

  • craig

    “I don’t see how that could be the cause of the man’s death given Tomlinson walked away from the incident”.

    How can you talk such complete rubbish? I recall on an earlier ost you told us he died of a heart attack brought on by alcohol. Clearly you and medical scisnce are strangers.

  • Jess

    Craig, I haven’t got a clue what your piece is trying to say – it doesn’t make sense on any level – so it’s no surprise you believe I have misinterpreted it.

    One thing we do know is, if this terror case falls flat and the suspects released, we will hear endless talk of how the police hyped it up and were just trying to scare everybody for no reason. If the suspects are charged, however, due to our over the top media laws in this country, that will be the last time we hear about it until they are convicted, and then it just make the headlines for day before it goes down the memory hole.

    That’s why people are so ignorant of other huge plots that were successfully convicted, like the liquid bomb plot, the fertilizer one, and the plot to behead a British soldier, etc.

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