Page last updated at 16:56 GMT, Tuesday, 16 September 2008 17:56 UK

Terror lawyer bribe probe dropped

By Dominic Casciani
BBC News home affairs reporter

Mudassar Arani
Mudassar Arani: Investigation dropped

Police have dropped a bribery probe into one of the leading UK lawyers who represents terrorism suspects.

Mudassar Arani was accused of sending cash to a defendant whom she did not represent in the 21 July London trial.

The solicitor, who had represented three of the failed bombers, now jailed, denied pressuring another defendant to change his story.

In a statement, the Metropolitan Police said there was insufficient evidence to continue investigating the claim.

The force said it had been asked in August 2007 to look into allegations made during the trial of the six men accused of organising and perpetrating the botched London suicide bombings of 21 July 2005.

"The Specialist Crime Directorate has scoped the allegations and reviewed the material that came out of the trial," said the statement.

"As a result the Metropolitan Police Service has decided that there is insufficient evidence to launch a criminal investigation and therefore will be taking no further action in connection with this matter."

High profile

Ms Arani is one of the most high-profile Muslim lawyers in the UK, with clients in many major counter-terrorism trials over the past five years.

Her team has represented radical preacher Abu Hamza al-Masri, senior al-Qaeda planner Dhiren Barot, and one of the men charged over an alleged 2006 plot to suicide bomb airliners.

In a statement, Ms Arani said: "I'm relieved that the investigation has finally cleared my name. These completely false allegations against me were made in the summer of 2007.

"The police have never once questioned me about them. I have suffered from considerable stress waiting for this matter to be resolved. Clients have been diverted from my practice by a whispering campaign."

Friends of the solicitor say that she has been the victim of smear tactics because of her willingness to represent men convicted of some of the most serious terrorist offences in the UK.

Barrister Michael Wolkind QC said the allegations against Ms Arani should have been cleared up in "15 minutes rather than 15 months" - and he criticised other lawyers for isolating her.

"She came to prominence because of her hard work," he said. "She deserves to regain her professional reputation."

Trial allegations

During the 21 July trial, Ms Arani represented the plot ringleader Mukhtar Ibrahim and two of his accomplices.

Another defendant, Manfo Kwaku Asiedu, was accused of being willing to die, before losing his nerve and abandoning his bomb in a park.

During heated scenes, the court heard that Ms Arani had sent 600 to Asiedu while he was awaiting trial.

The bomber's barrister alleged that his client's defence documents had also been changed to make the case appear better for the other defendants.

Asiedu's account of events had differed from the others.


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