Five men have been arrested on potential terrorism charges during Pope Benedict’s visit to the UK. However, his itinerary has not been changed.
At 5.45 this morning, the five were arrested by the Metropolitan Police at business premises in central London. They’ll be interviewed by detectives. It’s thought they’re not British nationals.
So far, say police, no hazardous items have been uncovered.
Police now say they’re satisfied that their security plans are still sound.
The BBC said on its lunchtime news bulletin that Britain’s security-threat level in Britain has not been raised because of the incident.
The BBC website says: “The five were arrested on suspicion of the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism under the Terrorism Act 2000.”
The five are aged 26, 27, 36, 40 and 50. Since their arrest, residential premises have also been searched.
Arrangements reviewed but not changed
The police force said in a statement: “Today’s arrests were made after police received information following initial inquiries by detectives. A decision was made to arrest the five men.
“Following today’s arrests policing arrangements for the papal visit were reviewed and we are satisfied our current policing plan remains appropriate. The itinerary has not changed. There is no change to the UK threat level.”
Meanwhile, there’s been anger from UK atheists after the Pope appeared to equate atheism with Nazism. He was addressing an audience in Scotland that included Queen Elizabeth II, when he talked of “aggressive forms of secularism”. See our earlier report here.
UPDATE: It has emerged that the five men were working for Veolia Environmental Services, a contractor working for the local council to keep the streets clean.
No charges have been brought against the five.
Westminster City Council’s director for city management, Leith Penny, is quoted in the Independent as saying: “The UK’s security is obviously of critical importance and can never be taken for granted and so our congratulations must go to the police authorities for their swift action today.
“While police investigations are ongoing and no charges have been brought, we can confirm that the people at the centre of the investigation work for one of our contractors, Veolia Environmental Services, who employ 650 on-street staff to keep Westminster’s streets clean and free from rubbish.
“Veolia and Westminster City Council work closely with the relevant authorities to constantly ensure that all the people working on their behalf are subject to right to work checks as prescribed by the Home Office to assess their eligibility to work in the country.
“We are confident that these checks are robust and we will continue to work with the police and other authorities during this investigation.”