UK Liberty

Arrested under Official Secrets Act but charged under Explosives Act

Posted in law and order by ukliberty on November 12, 2007

The Guardian (Press Association):

A 23-year-old man who was arrested under the Official Secrets Act has been charged with possessing explosives.

Risk analyst Peter Stephen Hill, of Lambert Street, Skipton, North Yorkshire, will appear before magistrates in Leeds next week.

Hill was arrested in Leeds on Wednesday by officers from the Metropolitan Police.

Scotland Yard confirmed he had been charged under section four of the Explosive Substances Act 1883.

Some reports are saying he was charged under the Explosives Act 1993.  There isn’t an Explosive Substances Act 1993.  There is an Explosive Substances Act 1883, and an Explosives Act 1875 (CPS Code for Crown Prosecutors: Explosives).

The charge alleges that on November 8, in Skipton, “you had knowingly in your possession or under your control an explosive substance, namely component parts including sodium chlorate, sugar, hexamine tablets, matches, bearings, a metal hollow tube and acetone, under such circumstances as to give rise to a reasonable suspicion that you are not making it or did not have it in your possession or under your control for a lawful object.”

Although Hill is being held in custody in relation to the explosives matter he was technically bailed on the Official Secrets Act matter until April next year.

It is understood the explosives allegations do not relate to any suspected terrorist-related activity.

Hill will appear before magistrates in Leeds on Monday.

These all look suspicious (well, except matches and sugar – perhaps he was making a chocolate bombe).  But sodium chlorate is used as a weedkiller; hexamine seems to have several uses, but most commonly as a fuel tablet used by campers and the military, and Hill used to be in the Territorial Army; matches, well it would be a rare home that didn’t have matches; bearings can be found in bicycles and other things with moving parts; metal hollow tubes make up a large part of my central heating system and scaffolding; and acetone is commonly used as a nail polish remover.  All fairly common household objects, I imagine, except for hexamine.

I’d like to be able to balance this article by informing you that the above  ‘components’ could be used to make an explosive device, but I don’t want to be accused of making available information that could be of use to terrorists, so I won’t.

I wonder if he had in fact made an explosive device, or merely possessed those potential components. A later article seems to claim the latter:

It is alleged he had in his possession a number of materials which if combined together could allegedly make an explosive device.

But s4 seems to require an actual substance:

4 (1) Any person who makes or knowingly has in his possession or under his control any explosive substance, under such circumstances as to give rise to a reasonable suspicion that he is not making it or does not have it in his possession or under his control for a lawful object, shall, unless he can show that he made it or had it in his possession or under his control for a lawful object, be guilty of felony, and, on conviction, shall be liable to penal servitude for a term not exceeding fourteen years, or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years…, and the explosive substance shall be forfeited.  (Swarb)

It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

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One Response

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  1. James Hammerton said, on November 12, 2007 at 9:30 pm

    “I’d like to be able to balance this article by informing you that the above ‘components’ could be used to make an explosive device…”

    When Part 2 of the Serious Crime Act 2007 comes into force, such an act might risk prosecution for assisting the commission of terrorist offences and/or any other offences that could be committed via causing an explosion.


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