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‘Crystal Clear’ Emails. Not.

10/08/2009

The story came out a couple of weeks ago of a man known only as XC, detained early this year as part of the Operation Pathway counter-terrorism raids in Manchester. The Crown Prosecution Service failed to bring charges against him due to a lack of evidence, but the Home Office is now seeking to deport him on the basis that he is a threat to national security. At a bail hearing before the Special Immigration Appeals Commission, the following emerged:

Richard Hermer QC, for XC, criticised the case against his client and said it contained “not one jot of evidence” linking him to bomb-making. The Government’s evidence file was made up of eight emails sent or received between December last year and April, markings on an A-Z, and observations of XC meeting with friends, he said.

Analysis by the Security Service (MI5) of the emails suggested the words “weak and difficult to convince” referred to a low-concentration explosive liquid, and “crystal clear” to other chemicals – despite being used in the context of a normal conversation about women, Mr Hermer said.

In putting such an interpretation on “entirely innocuous” emails, the Government was guilty of imposing a hidden meaning where there was none, Mr Hermer said.

“If you look for meaning and that’s the purpose for which you do it, that’s bias. What’s missing is any consideration of the evidence as to whether there is a totally benign explanation for the messages.”

Well, quite. We have little way of knowing at this remove what else might have been informing the police and MI5’s interpretation of these emails. Clearly, the press reports would seem to indicate that anything else ‘known’ was inadmissible to the court. Conspiracy aside, if there’s no case against him, why on earth is facing deportation?