Officers charged with assaulting terror suspect

Four police officers were told today they will go on trial accused of attacking a terrorist suspect nearly seven years ago.

The officers will be charged with assaulting Babar Ahmad as they arrested him during a raid at his home in Tooting, south London.



The four, who were all members of the Metropolitan Police's territorial support group (TSG) at the time, are accused of assault causing actual bodily harm.



They are Pcs Nigel Cowley, 32, Roderick James-Bowen, 39, and Mark Jones, 43, and Detective Constable John Donohue who has since transferred to another unit.



Ahmad, 36, who remains in custody awaiting a decision on whether he can be extradited to the United States, welcomed the news.



He said: "I am pleased that the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has decided that a jury will hear the evidence in this case.



"It will now be for the jury to determine whether any police officer should be punished for the assault upon me in December 2003."



Ahmad suffered injuries including heavy bruising to his head, neck, wrists and feet when he was arrested in December 2003.



The computer expert was held on suspicion of supporting and helping to recruit terrorists to fight in Afghanistan and Chechnya through email accounts and websites.



Prosecutors considered a file of evidence on how the injuries were caused in 2004 after an inquiry by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).



They found there was insufficient evidence for a conviction but reconsidered the case after Ahmad brought a civil case to the High Court last year.



He was awarded £60,000 damages after the court heard evidence he was assaulted and racially abused by a group of officers.



Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson admitted he was the victim of violence and the officers were accused of a "serious, gratuitous and prolonged" attack.



He ordered an independent review by retired senior judge Sir Geoffrey Grigson into the handling of the case.



Inquiries into the attack were marked by the loss of key documents, including previous complaints against the officers, and the refusal of some to attend court.



Ahmad has never been charged in Britain, but has been held in Long Lartin prison since 2004 after the United States issued an extradition warrant.



In July the European Court of Human Rights halted the move as it considers whether it will breach his rights by exposing him to life imprisonment without parole.



The CPS decision creates a fresh headache for senior Scotland Yard staff over the role of the TSG wing which has been blighted by controversy.



Campaign groups and one member of the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA) have called for its role to be reviewed.



Last month prosecutors said TSG officer Pc Simon Harwood will not be prosecuted over the death of Ian Tomlinson.



Mr Tomlinson, 47, died after being struck with a baton and pushed to the ground by Mr Harwood on the fringe of G20 protests on April 1 last year.



Simon Clements, of the Crown Prosecution Service, said there was "sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest" to charge the four officers.



James Welch, of Liberty, said: "Justice must take its course in this case. But, as both the Ian Tomlinson and this case suggest, equally important is that the methods and indeed the very existence of the TSG, with its militaristic approach, are urgently reviewed."



Tooting MP Sadiq Khan, a close friend of Ahmad, said: "I am pleased that the CPS decided to look at this incident again.



"Mr Ahmad's injuries, which he received £60,000 compensation for, show there are serious issues to be examined here surrounding the conduct of the arresting officers.



"It is important that these very serious allegations are properly considered in a criminal court, and that justice is seen to be done."



Green Party politician Jenny Jones, a member of the MPA, said: "We've known for many years that the TSG has needed reform.



"There have been consistent allegations of unnecessary aggression and brutality.



"I, for one, am tired of being assured by senior officers that all force has been 'reasonable' only to find out that it hasn't.



"It's difficult to believe even today that this same situation couldn't happen again. Urgent reform of the TSG is needed."



An MPA spokesman said: "This case has serious implications for policing in London. The allegations have damaged public confidence in the way police officers carry out their duties and Londoners have the right to expect that if found to have acted improperly, officers will be held to account.



"Once the legal process is concluded we will seek to publish and debate the findings of the Met review."

A Met spokesman said tonight it had restricted the duties of the four officers.



"The restrictions will be kept under review pending the conclusion of legal processes," he added.

* The men will appear on bail before City of Westminster magistrates' court on 22 September.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test