Daniel Abel Khalife: Independent inquiry to take place into terror suspect’s escape


Daniel Abel Khalife: Independent inquiry to take place into terror suspect's escape

An independent investigation will take place into Daniel Abed Khalife’s escape from HMP Wandsworth on Wednesday.

Justice Secretary Alex Chalk told MPs on Thursday it will include two urgent reviews, the first will focus on the “placement and categorisation” of all inmates at the jail.

The second will investigate all those people in custody currently charged with terror offences.

A manhunt is under way for the former soldier, 21, who went missing on Wednesday morning.

There are fears the fugitive – who is believed to have escaped from the prison kitchen by clinging to a delivery van – may try to flee the country.

The government had already announced an internal inquiry into how the incident occurred, but Labour said that was not sufficient and called for a independent investigation into wider issues with the prison system.

Questions are being raised regarding alleged understaffing at Wandsworth prison and why Khalife was not being held in Category A HMP Belmarsh – where terror suspects are usually kept.

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Daniel Abel Khalife: Independent inquiry to take place into terror suspect's escape

Mr Chalk said the independent investigation “will take place in due course”.

He added: “No stone must be left unturned in getting to the bottom of what happened. Who was on duty that morning? In what roles, ranging from the kitchen to the prison gate? What protocols were in place? Were they followed?”

Shabana Mahmood, the shadow justice secretary, said it “beggars belief” that Khalife was able to escape.

She said: “This is an extremely serious matter and it has highlighted catastrophic and multiple failures not just in respect of this case but of our wider criminal justice system.”

Daniel Abel Khalife: Independent inquiry to take place into terror suspect's escape

‘Cuts have consequences’

Wandsworth prison, a Category B facility, was built 170 years ago and described in a recent watchdog report as “overcrowded, crumbling, vermin-infested” and suffering with staff shortages.

The same report said an inmate managed to escape in 2019 and highlighted continuing concerns about security.

The Prison Officer Association (POA) has also said the jail is “overcrowded and under resourced” and is experiencing “chronic staffing shortages”.

POA General Secretary Steve Gillan said of the escape that “cuts have consequences”.

“No one ever wants to see an escape from Prison but since 2010 this union has been on record as saying cuts have consequences,” he said.

“You cannot take out 900 million from the budget with reduced staffing levels up and down the country and expect the Prison Service to operate as if nothing has happened.”

Calls for an independent inquiry were also backed by the Liberal Democrats, who said there needs to be an “independent review into the entire prison categorisation process”.

Justice spokesperson Alistair Carmichael MP said: “There are serious questions to answer about how Daniel Abed Khalife escaped – and why he was placed in HMP Wandsworth in the first place.

“Prison staffing shortages and retention issues have become the norm under this Conservative Government. We cannot let prison breaks become commonplace, too.”

Daniel Abel Khalife: Independent inquiry to take place into terror suspect's escape

Khalife, who was awaiting trial after allegedly planting a fake bomb at an RAF base and gathering information that might be useful to terrorists or enemies of the UK, was discharged from the Army in May 2023.

He has denied the three charges against him.

He was last seen wearing a white T-shirt, red and white chequered trousers and brown, steel toe-cap boots, the Metropolitan Police said. He is slim and 6ft 2in tall, with short brown hair.

The jail was put on lockdown after he fled.

His escape has prompted extra security checks at major transport hubs.

Kent Police confirmed junctions eight and nine of the M20 were temporarily shut on Thursday due to the enhanced security checks, while there have also been extra checks at airports.


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