Friday, September 19, 2008

Police ordered to return £14,420 taken from man who did nothing wrong.

THE son of a Muslim cleric today won his bid to reclaim £14,420 confiscated from him by police at Heathrow airport.

A judge criticised a Wikipedia entry used by officers to justify their actions and said the money was a religious gift and was not intended for "terrorist purposes".

Abdul Fostock, 25, was stopped by police in October 2006 when he was about to travel to Beirut to visit his father.

London's Southwark Crown Court heard Fostock was carrying £14,420 in a series of envelopes marked: Daddy; Mum; Sheikh and Spending Money.

Fostock, of Streamside Close, Enfield, Middlesex, told officers he received the money from "friends and family" and intended to distribute it as an "Eid present".

But Detective Sergeant Russell Hughes of the Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command told an appeal hearing there were "reasonable grounds" to "suspect the money had been intended for the purposes of crime", and it was seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Ruling on the appeal Judge Higgins said: "This was for his father's day-to-day living requirements as he was largely destitute and depended on friends and relatives.

"It was an Eid gift, it was not for the purposes of terrorism.

"It was an act of humanity given at the end of the month of Ramadan when the minds of Muslims turn to such matters."

He also dismissed evidence provided by the Met about Mr Bakri's involvement in terrorist groups as "unreliable" as it was from "open sourced material", namely a Wikipedia entry.

Tanveer Queresh representing Fostock said this evidence was "wholly unreliable".

He added: "The crux of the case against him rests on open source material from Wikipedia.

"Mere users of this website can edit the website's content instantly and it often contains inaccurate and malicious information.

The Met was ordered to repay the money within 14 days and also ordered to cover Fostock's court costs of £4,000.

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