Greater Manchester Police have lost their bid to attempt to confiscate the homes of Munir Farooqi and his family.
The court case which began yesterday ended in a partial victory for the Farooqi family who got to keep the three properties which GMP claimed were used for the purposes of terrorism.
Seven members of Farooqi’s family, from three generations, still live in one of the houses and claimed the application was a breach of their right to family life. On Friday, Deputy High Court Judge Richard Henriques agreed.
He said he was satisfied Farooqi had control of the house at time of his offences, but that his family did not know of his terrorist activities.
He added that seizing the home would adversely affect the family, rendering six innocent adults and two children homeless.
Munir Farooqi, 56, and two others were convicted of engaging in conduct designed to radicalise individuals to commit violent jihad in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
He was sentenced to 18 years in jail after an undercover police operation. The case was particularly controversial because it involved two undercover police officers who pretended to convert to Islam and who secretly recorded conversations with Farooqi and others over a period of about a year.
No weapons or plans were ever found and Farooqi was convicted on his words alone. His family claim those words were taken out of context and were said after constant provocation. They maintain that Farooqi is completely innocent.
However, it wasn’t all good news for the Farooqi family as Farooqi was ordered to pay £500k in costs (£400k towards legal aid costs and £100k towards prosecution costs) at Manchester Crown Court.
It is understood any cash recovered would go to the Treasury, not Greater Manchester Police.
Following the verdict the family released the following statement: “Our campaign has continuously stressed to GMP and the CPS over the years that the forfeiture of our home would render three generations homeless and that this is not in the public interest which was supported by 50,000 signatures from a diverse community.
“This has proved that we are not a terrorist family and 50,000 publications stored in the home were not deemed to be promoting terrorism. The judge ordered that our house must not be forfeited however the income that supports the three wholly innocent (as stressed by the judge) generations is still under threat.
“We shall continue to fight against the injustice with the help of the community and prove that there has been a miscarriage of justice in order to free our father Munir Farooqi.”
Meanwhile, advocacy group CAGE said the case shows that the CPS and Greater Manchester Police weren’t merely concerned with prosecuting terrorism but actively engaged in the crushing of an innocent family.
CAGE’s Asim Qureishi said: “That the state can try its utmost to render an innocent family homeless using counter-terrorism laws should send out a strong message that these powers are breathtakingly-broad, and need to be drastically curtailed.
“Munir Farooqi was convicted of terror offences in 2011 and is currently serving 4 life-sentences after a trial that was marred by claims of entrapment. His conviction had been brought about by the work of undercover officers, who were also the only two persons to testify against him.
“Head of the counter-terrorism unit at the time, Tony Porter said ‘This was an extremely challenging case, both to investigate and successfully prosecute at court, because we did not recover any blueprint, attack plan or endgame for these men.’”
The ruling followed forfeiture proceedings applied by the North West Counter Terrorism Unit (NWCTU) and the Crown Prosecution Service.
Detective Superintendent Julian Richardson said: “Munir Farooqi was convicted and sentenced in 2011 of preparation for terrorist acts overseas, three counts of soliciting to murder and dissemination of terrorist publications and given four life sentences. All of the offences took place at 6 Victoria Terrace, Longsight, Manchester, which is the Farooqi family home.
“The ruling by Sir Richard Henriques demonstrates a proportionate response to the evidence placed before the Court. The Crown agreed that the ruling give due consideration to those interested parties so that no innocent party was unduly punished or made homeless as a result of this hearing.
“The £500k costs order should draw to a conclusion this protracted and complex investigation into the most serious offences that threatened the lives of coalition Forces overseas. Munir Farooqi threatened to kill 40-50 military personnel when planning his attacks. The ruling provides some redress to the state for the significant cost to the public purse and hopefully acts as a deterrent to those considering terrorist acts.”