Man jailed over bomb claims

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The Independent Online

A 27-year-old man was today jailed for four months after admitting telling a national newspaper he was the fifth London bomber.

Imran Patel had pleaded guilty to making a false report to News Of The World journalist Mazher Mahmood that he had information relevant to the investigation into the bombings on July 7.

Leeds Magistrates Court heard Patel's actions wasted 4,070 hours of police time whilst officers were working round the clock on the investigation.

It was estimated that his actions cost police around £60,000.

Patel was arrested by anti-terrorist police at his home in Dewsbury in October after the newspaper handed over information to officers.

Jailing Patel, District Judge David Kitson said: "You have pleaded guilty to the offence of wasting police time, a summary offence carrying a maximum punishment of six months in prison.

"The offence, by your own admission, was one born purely out of greed, but nevertheless having enormous consequences.

"In my judgment it's difficult to see how any offence of this nature could be more serious than that which you have committed.

"It came three months after one of the worst atrocities committed on the British mainland and led to survivors and relatives of those that were killed having to relive their experiences.

"Furthermore by your actions you have diverted valuable and specialist police resources from pursuing other genuine lines of inquiries.

"In my judgment this offence is so serious, only an immediate custodial sentence is appropriate.

"It's also my belief that a custodial sentence is necessary to act as a deterrent to any others who may have similar intentions in mind."

Patel, wearing black trousers, a dark blue jumper and a light blue shirt, smiled at his wife, who was crying in the public gallery, as he was led from the court in handcuffs by two female security guards.

Karen Jones, prosecuting, told the court: "As a result of what Mr Patel did, a significant amount of resources had to be redeployed."

She said the operation, codenamed Theseus, involved officers from the SO13 anti-terrorist squad "effectively working round the clock" on the investigation into the London bombings.

She said their time and resources were diverted for six days between October 22 and October 27 to investigate Patel's claims.

Miss Jones told the court that Patel claimed he had met the four London suicide bombers, had discussed possible targets within the UK with them, and had seen video footage of Mohammed Sidique Khan training for the attacks in Chechnya.

Patel sent a series of 17 emails to Ian Edmondson, the associate news editor of the News of the World, in which he first gave the newspaper a "taster" of the information he claimed to have and then negotiated over payment.

In his final email, when he was told "You have nothing to worry about, you're not the story", he replied: "I am the fifth person."

He met Mazher Mahmoud on October 20 for a two-hour interview and that material was later handed to police who arrested Patel on October 22.

He was paid £200 as compensation for him losing a day's work and the fee agreed, but never paid, for the interview was £5,000.

Miss Jones said the article that appeared in the News of the World "accurately reflects" what was said during that interview.

She said: "He made the whole thing up, clearly for money."

She told the court there was no evidence that Patel had been in telephone contact with Khan, as he had claimed.

There was also no evidence of "videos or literature" which he claimed to have buried in Leicester, and no evidence of any meetings between Patel and the suicide bombers.

Police also found nothing suspicious when they searched his house in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, and found no traces of explosives.

The court heard there was also nothing to show that Patel had been to a training camp in Pakistan during 2003, as he had claimed.

Miss Jones said the investigation into Patel's claims had taken 4,070 hours and that detectives working on the case estimated that this would have cost around £60,000.

"I think, looking at the number of hours, that is a very conservative estimate," she said.

The inquiries into Patel's claims involved firearms officers and 24-hour guards at two properties in West Yorkshire, the court heard.

"The whole thing had been made up as he went along. He effectively made the whole thing up to make some money," Miss Jones said.

"He just did it to make a few quid.

"What he did detracted from what is probably one of the most significant investigations in this country for a very long time."

The court also heard he was a man of previous good character and had no criminal convictions.