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Met chief orders inquiry on beaten terror suspect

Ben Russell,Home Affairs Correspondent
Thursday 19 March 2009 01:00 GMT

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson last night demanded an urgent independent inquiry into why officers who arrested a terror suspect refused to give evidence to a High Court hearing into allegations of abuse.

His force will pay Babar Ahmad £60,000 in damages after admitting yesterday that the officers had subjected him to assaults and religious abuse. The court heard he was subjected to "serious gratuitous prolonged unjustified violence".

The collapse of the force's defence to an action for personal injury damages brought by Mr Ahmad, 34, an IT support analyst, led to calls for an inquiry into what his family said was a cover-up to protect the officers involved.

Last night, Scotland Yard said: "The Commissioner has demanded an immediate investigation into the circumstances surrounding the officers refusing to give evidence relating to this arrest in 2003... this is a serious matter which has been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission [IPCC]."

In 2007, an IPCC investigation cleared the police of any wrongdoing, concluding that the claims by Mr Ahmad were "unsubstantiated".

However, the court heard an officer twice placed Mr Ahmad in a hold and police forced him into a prayer position, shouting, "Where is your God now? Pray to him." One officer grabbed Mr Ahmad's genitals and police wrenched him by his handcuffs, causing him excruciating pain. One of the officers is to face criminal proceedings, Mr Justice Holroyde heard.

Mr Ahmad was not charged with any offences arising out of his 2003 arrest but is in prison facing extradition to the US, where he is wanted on charges of raising money for al-Qa'ida.

In a statement read on his behalf, his brother-in-law, Fahad Ahmad, said: "This abuse took place not in Guantanamo Bay or a secret torture chamber but in Tooting, south London.

"I can now put this incident behind me and focus on the fight to prevent my extradition to the United States."

Gordon Brown also faced demands for an inquiry into allegations of Government complicity in torture as he said that in the spring he would publish interrogation guidelines for British spies working overseas.

The Prime Minister insisted that MI5 and MI6 acted "in a way that is consistent with our unequivocal commitment to human rights".

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