Times Online August 03, 2006

Abul Kahar Kalam, right, during a press conference about the police raid in Forest Gate (Richard Pohle/The Times)

Terror raid victim arrested on child porn charges
By Adam Fresco and agencies

A man shot by police during a controversial anti-terror raid in Forest Gate has been arrested on suspicion of possession and making of child abuse images.

Abul Kahar Kalam was arrested by officers from the Metropolitan Police’s Child Abuse Investigation Command after attending a London police station by appointment. It is understood that they examined a computer passed to them after the armed raid in June in east London, by police acting on intelligence of a chemical bomb plot.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: "Following advice from the CPS, a man in his 20s has been arrested today by officers from the Met’s Child Abuse Investigation Command. The man, who attended a London police station by appointment, has been arrested on suspicion of possession and making of child abuse images. He remains in custody.

"His arrest relates to an investigation by detectives from the Child Abuse Investigation Command after property was passed to them for examination."

Earlier today a report by the Independent Police Complaints Authority cleared the armed police officer who shot Mr Kahar of any wrong doing and said the shooting was an accident.

The IPCC report said that during the raid in June the gun went off as a result of contact on a narrow staircase between the police officer and Mr Kahar. He was shot in the shoulder but there was "no evidence of intent or recklessness", the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) found.

Armed police, acting on intelligence, raided the house looking for evidence of a chemical bomb. No such device was ever found. The operation, codenamed Volga, involved 250 officers, who raided two neighbouring properties in Forest Gate, east London.

Mr Kahar was woken up early in the morning by armed police bursting into his home. He said he was about three feet away from one officer when he saw an orange flash and was shot, but the IPCC said that he was probably much nearer than that.

"He did not hear them speaking or realise they were police officers and says that he believed it was a robbery," said the report.

Deborah Glass, the IPCC Commissioner, attached no blame to Mr Kahar for putting forward a version of events which was not backed by the forensics. Her report said: "From the equipment and respirators worn by the officers it is not surprising that he did not recognise them in the dark to be police officers.

"This must have been a very frightening situation, which would also have been very shocking. The incident also happened very quickly, and these factors are likely to have a bearing on his recollection of events."

The armed officer, known as B6, told investigators that as he climbed the stairs he was shouting the words "armed police", but his voice was probably muffled by his respirator, said the commissioner.

Ms Glass said that having looked at all the circumstances she concluded that the officer had committed no criminal or disciplinary offence. There was "no evidence" of intent or recklessness on the part of the firearms officer. There was also no evidence to support a media report that the gun was fired by one of the brothers, the IPCC’s report concluded.

Its conclusions were based on the findings of an independent forensic scientist.

Ms Glass said that the investigation would not be referred to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) for consideration on criminal charges, because although the injury to Mr Kahar was serious enough to fall under the definition of grievous bodily harm, there was no evidence of intent. There was also no scope for a prosecution under health and safety laws.

The forensic scientist found no fingerprints on the trigger of the weapon - but also concluded that the only way for the weapon to have been fired was for the trigger to be pulled. The weapon with which Mr Kahar was shot - a Heckler and Koch MP5 carbine - had its safety catch off, in accordance with police training for a "high-risk entry", the report added.

Although the report is not explicit, this suggests that the police officer, who was wearing two pairs of gloves as part of a chemical biological radiological nuclear (CBRN) suit, fired the gun accidentally.

The IPCC document said the forensic examination found evidence that the officer and Mr Kahar were "much less" further apart than the three feet described by Mr Kahar.

B6 said that as he was on a half-landing in the property he collided with two figures "approaching from his right at speed" and this caused him to lose his balance and crash into the wall. "B6 says that he was aware of person(s) pulling at his right arm. He states that he feared that the person(s) were trying to take his weapon, and that he feared for his life."

Scotland Yard has apologised for the "hurt" caused to Mr Kahar and his brother, Abul Koyair Kalam, 20, during the raid on their home in east London in June. The two men were released after a week-long search failed to produce any evidence. Their home was ripped apart by the search, and since then the family have been living in hotels, at a reported cost of around £30,000 a month to the Metropolitan Police.

Assistant Commissioner Tarique Ghaffur, head of Central Operations and in charge of Firearms teams, criticised the "ill founded, premature and one sided comment made to the media" after the raid.

"Much of this was heavily critical of the MPS and could have damaged public confidence in us. We have always maintained that there were two sides to this story and today's announcement and findings by the IPCC knocks down many of the inaccurate and misleading statements that were previously made," he said.

"In this case an independent forensic scientist has concluded that the weapon was within two inches of Abul Kahar when discharged and was not in a normal firing position. The IPCC has concluded there was no evidence that it was a deliberate act by the officer, or indeed no evidence of intent or recklessness. The report states that the officer has committed no criminal or disciplinary offences.

"We welcome these findings but recognise the impact that this incident has had on the local community and regret what was an accidental discharge that resulted in someone being injured.

"The IPCC's independence and the transparency that this report brings are vital for Londoners to continue to have confidence in the police that serve them and the bodies that hold us accountable. Any lessons to learn as a result of this IPCC investigation will be fully and properly considered."