An investigation has been launched by the UK’s justice secretary after a suspected terrorist accused of passing information to Iran fled prison on Wednesday.
Daniel Abed Khalife was in Wandsworth Prison when he escaped by clinging onto the bottom of a food delivery van. The 21-year-old is accused of trying to leak information to Iran and leaving fake bombs at a military base before his arrest in January.
Charged under the Official Secrets Act, he is accused of collecting personal information about soldiers from the Ministry of Defence joint personnel administration system while serving as a soldier.
Justice minister Alex Chalk told MPs that “strapping” had been found underneath the delivery vehicle and said an internal inquiry must report to him by the end of the week with a list of prison staff who were on duty at the time, notably those at the kitchens and security gates.
“No stone must be left unturned in getting to the bottom of what happened,” he told MPs.
Questions now remain as to how Khalife - labeled a flight risk and in turn, denied bail while awaiting trial - was allowed to work in the kitchen, giving him access to the delivery vehicle, a “privileged job” given usually only to the most trusted inmates, according to former Prison Governor, John Podmore.
Podmore told Times Radio: “Someone like him would not be allowed access to work the kitchen”, suspecting it was a premeditated escape with little chance of his being found. Further questions are being asked as to why, given the nature of the charges against Khalife, he was not in a maximum security category A or B prison such as Belmarsh.