Lancashire police say 'terrorist house' incident not about spelling mistake

Officers insist serious concerns were raised by a boy's homework - and say this was 'not just' about terror

Adam Withnall
Thursday 21 January 2016 09:14 GMT
The boy was visited by police, who decided no further action was needed
The boy was visited by police, who decided no further action was needed (Harry Engels/Getty Images)

Lancashire police have hit out at the BBC after it was reported that a 10-year-old Muslim boy was interviewed by officers over a simple spelling mistake in his schoolwork.

The boy’s cousin told the broadcaster the family wanted an apology after he wrote that he lived in a “terrorist” house, meaning he lived in a “terraced” house, and the incident was reported by his school.

But in a new development, local newspaper the Lancashire Telegraph has published the boy’s homework in full, in which it can clearly be seen that the child is imagining details of the life of a fictional character named “Cheeky Charlie”.

That’s not to say teachers would not raise concerns about such writing – other answers might appear concerning to a figure of authority, not least the first: “I hate it when my uncle hits me.”

Yet speaking to the local paper, the boy’s father Mohammed said he “had been asked to be creative”. “He’s never been hit by his uncle and the school know he lives with his parents. This was heavy-handed.”

The Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Lancashire, Clive Grunshaw, issued a damning statement on the way the story had been reported and said he had “written to the BBC”, which later updated its original article online.

“A report wrongly claimed a family was interrogated as potential terrorists due to a spelling error in a boy’s homework,” he said.

“The facts are that a young person disclosed a worrying issue in his school work – not just that he lived in a “terrorist house” – and this was reported through the appropriate channels and subsequently a visit was undertaken by a neighbourhood police officer and a social worker.”

He added: “In the event there was no further action needed, but if the school and police had not acted then they would have been failing in their duty to respond to concerns.”

Mr Grunshaw later tweeted that the BBC had “set the record straight”.

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