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Friday, 3 August, 2001, 12:14 GMT 13:14 UK
The man hunting the bombers
Alan Fry
Alan Fry appeals for information about the BBC attack
Alan Fry, the head of the Metropolitan Police's anti-terrorist branch, has kept a relatively low profile since he was appointed to the post in August 1998.

What a way to mark three years on the job.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Alan Fry, head of the anti-terrorist branch at New Scotland Yard, took on the job three years ago to the day of the latest bomb attack in west London.

Alan Fry with torch bomb
A torch bomb similar to this blinded a TA recruit
Seconds after midnight on 3 August, a car bomb exploded outside Ealing Broadway station, injuring seven people.

The attack bore the hallmarks of the dissident republican group, the Real IRA, which has rejected the Good Friday peace agreement.

In Mr Fry's time in the job, London has once again gone on terrorist alert as a series of bomb attacks - blamed on the Real IRA - have rocked the capital, including:

  • Two blasts at a postal sorting office in Hendon, north London;

  • A taxi bomb that exploded outside BBC Television Centre in Shepherd's Bush in March;

  • A torch bomb planted at a nearby Territorial Army barracks in February;

  • A missile attack on MI6 headquarters in south London last September;

  • A bomb defused on a railway in Ealing last July;

  • And a device that exploded at Hammersmith Bridge a month earlier.

    Mr Fry was among three senior detectives assigned special protection last December following threats by the Real IRA.

    Nailing a killer

    He also took the lead in the hunt for nail bomber David Copeland, who was sentenced to life imprisonment last year for three attacks targeting London's black, Asian and gay communities in 1999.

    David Copeland, caught on CCTV in Brixton
    David Copeland, caught on CCTV in Brixton
    Three people died and 129 were injured during Copeland's 13-day reign of terror. Mr Fry's team spent thousands of hours pouring over CCTV footage taken from shop fronts to identify the bomber.

    Before joining the anti-terrorist branch, he spent two years in charge of the Met's Directorate of Intelligence, which is responsible for gathering information on major criminals and serious offences such as drug-related violence, kidnap, extortion and murder.

    On the beat

    He joined the Met in 1962, and served in divisions across the capital, including Hounslow, Hammersmith and Shepherd's Bush, the West End, and Woolwich.

    Alan Fry
    Alan Fry: Career copper
    As he moved up the police hierarchy, Mr Fry worked in the Complaints Investigation Bureau, and acted as a police adviser to HM Prison Service.

    He served as commander of the south-east area of London, and headed the fraud squad before being promoted to deputy assistant commander in 1990. In the four subsequent years, he led the policing of the Notting Hill Carnival.

    He also worked with Sir John Woodcock on the inquiry into the escape of six prisoners from the special security unit at Whitemoor prison in 1994; and in 1995 led a team of officers carrying out an independent investigations into the escape of three prisoners from Parkhurst prison.

    He was awarded the Queen's police medal in 1989. A keen sportsman, he is chairman of the Met's cricket and volleyball clubs.

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