Police pay £20k to Nottingham student arrested over terror manual

A student who was arrested after downloading an al-Quaeda training manual from a US government website during research for his master’s degree has been paid £20,000 by Nottinghamshire Police in an out of court settlement.

September 15, 2011

Rizwaan Sabir launched legal action against the police force, accusing it of false imprisonment following his arrest and detention under the Terrorism Act in 2008.

He pointed out that the training manual in question was widely available, including in Nottingham’s library, and claimed that his lecturers had confirmed that he had legitimate academic reasons for downloading it.

Despite this, Mr Sabir was held by police for seven days before being released without charge.

In a statement issued yesterday, Mr Sabir said that he brought proceedings against Nottinghamshire Police not only for false imprisonment, but also for alleged breaches of the Race Relations Act and the Human Rights Act.

He also claimed that false information had been kept on the force’s records, including an assertion that Mr Sabir had been convicted of a terrorist offence.

He claimed this had led to “numerous” stop and searches.

Mr Sabir said Nottinghamshire’s chief constable, Julia Hodson, had issued an apology “for any embarrassment, frustration and distress caused” by a stop and search in February 2010, and that the force had paid a £20,000 settlement and agreed to pay his legal expenses.

"For more than three years, I have been fighting to clear my name and establish that the police were wrong to arrest me and put me through the tortuous experience I suffered at their hands. I have finally succeeded in doing so, and they have been forced to account for the wrong they did to me," he said.

Nottinghamshire Police confirmed the payout, but insisted that this was a settlement, not compensation, and that it had not admitted liability.

“We stand by the fact that the arrest, detention and obtaining of a warrant of further detention were all perfectly legal, proportionate and necessary in the circumstances as they were in 2008,” it said.

“The matter was settled without admission of liability save that the force admitted that one brief search of Mr Sabir and his vehicle carried out in February 2010 was the result of a mistaken belief on the part of the officers involved. This was admitted in November 2010 and the Force apologises for this search.

“Nottinghamshire Police has also agreed to amend some records held on Mr Sabir to give them greater clarity.

“Given that all litigation carries with it a risk this modest monetary settlement was viewed as a sensible way of keeping overall costs to a minimum.”

john.gill@tsleducation.com

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