he senior policeman leading the
investigation into an alleged plot to behead a
Muslim British soldier believes the inquiry has been
"hijacked" by the Government.
Assistant Chief Constable David
Shaw was "seething" when he discovered Whitehall
officials leaked sensitive details of Operation
Gamble to the media in an apparent attempt to divert
attention from the problems engulfing Tony Blair.
Protection for Muslim police in kidnap fear
(saved version here)
he is said to be increasingly frustrated that the
anonymous briefings may be impeding his officers'
efforts to gather evidence.
A source close to Mr Shaw said:
"He is angry that while he had played a straight bat
there are others in Government departments who,
without asking him, briefed the media about his
Last Wednesday morning, only a
few hours after the dawn arrests of nine men in
Birmingham, Mr Shaw watched despairingly as details
of the operation he hoped would remain secret
flashed up on TV.
The source said: "He said through
gritted teeth, "I haven't said any of those things -
it has all come from London."
At one point, to the bewilderment
of senior officers, details of the operation were
being broadcast while one of the suspects had still
to be found.
Mr Shaw never intended for the
public to know, at least not yet, the existence of
the alleged beheading plot, fearing the huge
publicity would only further inflame Birmingham's
Muslim communities at a time when he needs their
Following the leaks, senior
officers were sent to try to pacify community
leaders and explain that the police were not to
Mr Shaw, a married father of two,
is a highly espected figure among the city's ethnic
minorities and is understood to be dismayed at the
rancour in the Muslim community that the
interference from Whitehall has produced.
The source said: "He feels the
inquiry has been hijacked by those who don't have to
live - as he does - with the direct consequences of
what they say publicly.
"To my knowledge, he hasn't
speculated as to what motivated these people to
brief the media but it's really rather obvious that
there are various agendas at work here."
Mr Shaw had released only scant
information about the arrests, not operational
But the unofficial release of
lurid detail about an alleged beheading plot - and
an accompanying account of how two soldiers were
used as "live bait" to try to flush out the suspects
- dramatically raised the interest in the story.
Conveniently for the Government,
it replaced the prisons crisis as the story of the
week - and took the sting out of the cash-for-honours
row that saw Tony Blair questioned by police for a
Mr Shaw felt it necessary to
spell out his discomfort in a news conference on
Referring to Birmingham, he said:
"I am acutely aware that members of the community
are confused and bewildered by what is being said by
The Home Office said: "We have
only released factual statements on the matter and
the Secretary of State and the Attorney General have
reminded media not to do anything that would
prejudice the operation."
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