Advocacy group CAGE is screening a documentary around the country which alleges that West Midlands Police framed four Muslim men who are currently serving life in prison for terrorism.
At the documentary’s launch event in Birmingham last Friday, attended by around 250 people, The Birmingham 4 alleged police corruption in the case of four men – Naweed Ali, Khobaib Hussain, Mohibur Rahman and Tahir Aziz – who were convicted of terrorism in 2017 following a sting operation by WMP.
Serious accusations of wrongdoing were made in the documentary by the case lawyers Stephen Kamlish and Gareth Pierce, as well as the sister of one of the convicted men, Mariam Hussain. All three strongly believe a miscarriage of justice occurred.
Accusations in the documentary, which is presented by Moazzam Begg, include:
- A police officer (“Vincent”) planted evidence to frame the men by putting a bag into a car with incriminating items.
- “Vincent” described events in police notes that had not taken place yet, suggesting complicity.
- One of the trial jurors had a crush on one of the police officers but was not recused.
- Officers spoke to each other regularly during the trial to get their stories straight.
- There was no DNA or CCTV evidence.
‘Miscarriage of justice’
Steven Kamlish QC said: “This case particularly stands out from others as a miscarriage of justice… all the evidence starting from the beginning right to the end had so many features that were palpably false, made up, fake, deliberate lies right from the beginning. Any open-minded observer observing the case and knowing the evidence would have realised that this case was a fit-up, a miscarriage of justice organised by a small number of police officers at the heart of the case.”
Gareth Pierce said: “What was emerging in the trial – officers in touch with each other when they were giving evidence, meeting in lay-bys to discuss the evidence in advance, inappropriate prior knowledge of what evidence is going to be found; all of that if you had been representing somebody who has been wrongly convicted and if you came upon this evidence years later it would be the key to the door. This would be evidence you could never have dreamed of of clear police complicity. We cannot believe that the jury could believe the prosecution case.”
The documentary also alleges that the reason the men were convicted was because of a number of terror incidents that happened during the trial which made the atmosphere unconducive to acquittal.
Gareth Pierce compared the trial to that of the Birmingham Six – six Irishmen who were each sentenced to life imprisonment in 1975 following their false convictions for the 1974 Birmingham pub bombings.
“It’s like being in a time warp actually. Cases in the 1970s and the early 80s when the police, and in fact more than anybody the West Midlands Police, fabricated evidence to such an extent that the squad responsible was completely disbanded and dozens of defendants… one by one had their convictions quashed. This case certainly rests on fabrication and mendacity in the clearest possible way. It’s a reprint of the past sadly.”
Stephen Kamlish said: “I’m certain that these men are innocent and they were wrongly convicted at the hands of a small group of corrupt police officers.”
Mariam Husain, Khobaib Hussain’s sister, added: “I can’t forget about him and what’s happened in his life. They’ve taken his prime life, his prime youth away from him and I feel betrayed by the authorities, I feel angry and upset. I speak collectively for all of our families, it is difficult for us to just carry on as normal. You can’t basically forget what happened to me and my family and the other three men. It’s a daily struggle.”
West Midlands Police statement
5Pillars approached West Midlands Police for comment and they sent us the following statement.
“All four men were unanimously found guilty after a four and a half month trial in August 2017. In October 2018 the Court of Appeal examined in great detail the safety of the convictions and upheld strongly the findings of the jury and as such their appeal was refused.
“The following comments were made by Lord Justice Holroyde after the Court of Appeal hearing: ‘We have considered whether anything put before us casts doubt on the safety of the convictions. We are satisfied that there is nothing that does so. The jury by their verdicts plainly rejected that the evidence had been planted. Having done so there was ample circumstantial evidence against each of the accused to support the convictions.'”
The four men were jailed for life in 2017 after being found guilty of planning a knife and bomb attack.
The men were arrested after MI5 bugged Naweed Ali’s car, only to uncover a pipe bomb and meat cleaver hidden in a JD Sports bag. The men denied the charges, and claimed incriminating evidence was planted.
Ali, then aged 30, and Hussain, 25, both from Birmingham, and Rahman, 34, from Stoke-on-Trent, were each given minimum terms of 20 years.
Aziz, 39, from Stoke-on-Trent, was jailed for at least 15 years for his lesser role.
After the conviction, Detective Chief Superintendent Matt Ward, head of West Midlands Police’s counter terrorism unit, said the men had been planning a “mass casualty attack.”
He also defended the use of undercover tactics saying they were necessary to catch what he described as “really dangerous individuals.”
He added: “What we can be clear about is these men have a very clear extremist ideology, one base around hatred, one based around using violence to get their ends. There is no doubt had the plot not been stopped, there would have been a loss of life.
“I’m really proud of our officers, I’m particularly proud of our undercover operatives who were in an incredibly dangerous situation. They were living and working alongside a very dangerous group of individuals, who – if their cover had been blown at any stage their lives would have been at risk.”
CAGE is planning more public screenings of the documentary across UK cities. Check their website for details.