Page last updated at 16:47 GMT, Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Man wins lifting of control order

By Dominic Casciani
BBC News home affairs reporter

Cerie Bullivant
Cerie Bullivant: Court battle against his order

A British convert to Islam has been told that a terrorism control order imposed on him is to be quashed.

Cerie Bullivant heard at the High Court after a week-long court battle that the order imposed in 2006 would be lifted.

An MI5 officer had told the court Mr Bullivant posed a terrorist threat and had planned to go abroad to fight.

But the 25-year-old, who went on the run last year, said he did not believe in Islamist violence and had been found guilty by association.

Managing risk

The Home Office said the government was disappointed at Mr Justice Collins's decision.

Its statement went on: "The government will be considering whether to appeal the High Court's decision once we receive the full judgement. In the meantime we will work with the police to mitigate the risks posed by Mr Bullivant.

"For those we cannot either prosecute or deport, control orders remain the best means available for managing the risk posed by suspected terrorists."

Mr Bullivant was subjected to a control order in 2006 after the security service said he had allegedly planned to travel to Syria or Bangladesh as a staging post to fight with Islamist extremists.

I don't want people to go to fight in Iraq - I would never support market place bombings, or the bloodbath we have now seen there
Cerie Bullivant

The Dagenham man, who had been training to be a mental health nurse, was a close friend of brothers Lamine and Ibrahim Adam.

Their other brother, Anthony Garcia, was jailed after one of the UK's biggest-ever terrorism inquiries in the "fertiliser bomb plot" trial last April.

Mr Bullivant and the Adam brothers absconded from their orders, which include daily reporting to police, in 2007. While the brothers have never been found, Mr Bullivant turned himself in to police after a month.

In December last year an Old Bailey jury cleared him of breaching the order, after he told his trial that the counter-terrorism regime had caused severe damage to his mental health. The Home Office immediately served a new order on him which included electronic tagging and a curfew.

But after a week of hearings at the High Court, some of which were in secret, Mr Justice Collins told Mr Bullivant that he was quashing the order.

The judge, who had criticised the Home Office during the case, said that he would give his full reasons later.

Mr Bullivant, who had given evidence in the hearings, smiled and hugged his mother.

Strands of thinking

He had told the court that he had explored all streams of Islamic thinking after he converted to the faith, including hardline Islamist political campaigners.

Cerie Bullivant at Dagenham police station
Mr Bullivant was captured on CCTV at Dagenham police station

But he added that he had never been involved with extremist preachers. He said he did not know why he was being labelled a terrorist as he had never planned to get involved in violence - and did not know of any such intentions by his former friends.

Asked if he supported British Muslims going to fight alongside insurgents in Iraq, Mr Bullivant said: "Definitely not; I don't want people to go to fight in Iraq. I would never support market place bombings, or the bloodbath we have now seen there."

Asked what he would do if the order were lifted, he said he wanted to emigrate and rebuild his life as far away as possible from the UK.

MI5 evidence

Giving evidence against Mr Bullivant, an MI5 officer known only as "Officer P" told the court from behind a screen that his department's assessment was that he was a terrorist threat.

Officers who had interviewed Mr Bullivant had concluded there were inconsistencies in his plans and that he had constructed a "cover story" to hide his true intentions.

But Mr Bullivant said that MI5 had simply got the wrong end of the stick - and that his plans for Syria were like those of any backpacker - a young man's adventure.

"This was not a package holiday planned to the last detail with excursions paid for," he told the court.

"It was something off-the-cuff. Most people would have gone backpacking somewhere where they have turned up with no place to stay."



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SEE ALSO
Profile: Cerie Bullivant
13 Dec 07 |  UK
Q&A: Control orders
01 Feb 10 |  UK

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