Five arrested near Sellafield held under terrorism act

Five men are being held under the Terrorism Act after being arrested close to the Sellafield nuclear site, police said today.

They were detained at 4.32pm yesterday following a stop check on a vehicle by officers from the Civil Nuclear Constabulary, who police the facility in West Cumbria.

The five, all in their 20s and from London, were arrested under the Terrorism Act, a spokesman for Cumbria Police said.

They were held in police custody overnight before being taken to Manchester this morning.

An investigation is now under way by the North West Counter Terrorism Unit.

A statement from Cumbria Police said: "At 4.32pm yesterday, Monday 2 May, police officers from the Civil Nuclear Constabulary conducted a stop check on a vehicle close to the Sellafield site in West Cumbria.

"As a result, police officers from Cumbria Constabulary arrested five men from London, all aged in their 20s, under Section 41 of the Terrorism Act.

"They were taken to police custody in Carlisle overnight and are being transported to Manchester this morning.

"The investigation is being led by the North West Counter Terrorism Unit.

"A road closure affected the area for a short period of time."

Both the location and timing of yesterday's incident will cause concern.

The terror arrests came outside the Sellafield site, which handles highly dangerous nuclear material.

And they were made in an apparent vehicle stop check within hours of the news breaking that Osama bin Laden had been killed.

At the same time, the public was being warned to remain extra vigilant for fear of a reprisal from groups sympathetic to al-Qa'ida.

A spokesman for Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said the investigation is in its early stages and no further information will be released yet.

A statement added: "At this stage we are not aware of any connection to recent events in Pakistan."

Section 41 of the Terrorism Act 2000 allows a police officer to arrest any person whom he "reasonably suspects" to be a terrorist.



The arrests are not believed to have been intelligence-led.

The suspects may have been taking photographs, a source suggested.

Scotland Yard counter-terror detectives are "making inquiries" to help GMP with its investigation.



The sprawling Sellafield site on the Cumbrian coast is heavily protected by both private security and officers from the Civil Nuclear Constabulary, some of whom are armed.

Sellafield is responsible for decommissioning and reprocessing nuclear waste and fuel manufacturing, on behalf of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.

The Sellafield site has been operational since the 1940s, when it was used as a Royal Ordnance factory supporting the war effort. The site is also home to the world's first commercial nuclear power station - Calder Hall, which operated from 1956 to 2003.

Today the site comprises a wide range of nuclear facilities, including redundant facilities associated with early defence work, as well as operating facilities associated with the Magnox reprocessing programme, the Thermal Oxide Reprocessing Plant (Thorp), the Sellafield Mox plant and a range of waste treatment plants.

Labour leader Ed Miliband declined to comment directly on the arrests but told reporters at an election press conference: "It is right that the Government has stepped up security at various places and obviously they will act on any intelligence they have."

Secret information revealed by WikiLeaks last week detailed threats from a terror suspect interrogated at Guantanamo Bay who spoke of al Qaida unleashing a "nuclear hellstorm" on the West if bin Laden was ever captured or killed.

A spokesman for GMP would not be drawn on whether the suspects were Asian or how close they were to the Sellafield site.

No further information from police is expected until officers from the counter-terrorism unit have questioned the suspects following their transfer to custody in Manchester.

According to reports last year, a counter-terrorism review of Britain's nuclear power plants was carried out after fears arose over safety at Sellafield.

Officials at HM Inspectorate of Constabulary, responsible for assessing the work of police forces across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, had begun an urgent assessment, it was claimed.

Concerns about protecting the plant may have come to light during an exercise in which special forces posed as terrorists to test security, according to a report in The Times, last December.

At that time no-one was available at the Civil Nuclear Constabulary or the Civil Nuclear Constabulary Authority to comment.

The Civil Nuclear Constabulary, which has a force of about 800 officers, most of whom are trained marksmen, is tasked with protecting the country's nuclear estate from the threat of international terrorism and has recently upgraded the quality and type of weapons and ammunition used by staff.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor