London, Dec. 13 (ANI): The British Home Office had allowed all the ten members of a suspected Islamic terror group, who were arrested earlier this year on charges of plotting attacks on nigh clubs and shopping centres in Manchester, to work as security guards in the country, it has emerged.
According to The Times, the men, charges against whom were never labelled due to the lack of evidence, were given licences to work as security guards by the Security Industry Authority (SIA), a Home Office body that regulates the private security industry.
They all passed a screening programme designed to bar criminals and undesirables from taking up sensitive security posts protecting airports, ports and Whitehall buildings from terrorist attack, which clearly highlights the flaw in the country's system.
Officials also admit privately that they do not even attempt to make checks on applicants' address histories in Pakistan.
It is pertinent to mention here that in Britain, foreign migrants do not need to have their application to work as security guards counter-signed by a British referee.
Chris Grayling, the shadow Home Secretary, has come down hard on the present set of rules and has demanded an explanation from his Labour counterpart in this context.
"The fact that security checks on overseas nationals seeking clearance for the security industry are much more lax than for British people just beggars belief. This is clearly a huge hole in our security system," Grayling said.
Chairman of Parliament's Counter-Terrorism Committee, Patrick Mercer also stressed on the need for more stringent rules and regulations.
"Without proper address checks and a UK referee, there was no way of knowing whether or not an applicant had spent the past five years in a terrorist training camp. Every element of the security industry must be trained properly ... to be suspicious of all applications for jobs like this," Mercer said.
According to reports, the details of the case emerged after a five month-long police inquiry into the suspected bomber group, who were allegedly planning to bomb several nigh clubs and shopping malls on the eve of Easter.
The suspects, aged 22 to 38, are believed to have arrived in Britain on student visas in 2007 and 2008.
Their visas allowed them to work in paid employment for up to 20 hours a week. Because they had successfully applied for SIA permits, they were able to get work as security guards
The men were apprehended by MI5 in simultaneous raids conducted across Manchester Liverpool and Clitheroe, Lancashire in April.
Initially, the investigating team had arrested 12 suspects, but one of them was released immediately.
The remaining 11, all from Pakistan, were held under the 28-day terrorism law. However, the authorities failed to garner substantial evidence against them to support their case.
While two of the men are still in custody, all others have returned to Pakistan, as they could not be charged. (ANI)