A senior MI5 officer has told the inquest into the 2019 Fishmongers’ Hall attack they knew Usman Khan was going to be attending an event in London but did not see it as a “potential source of risk.”
Witness A, a deputy director of MI5, had earlier told the inquest at the Guildhall in London on Thursday, 13 May, that the agency had advised against Khan being allowed on a dumptruck driving course a few months earlier because they feared the “reputational damage” if he later committed an attack using such a vehicle.
Khan stabbed to death Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones during a Learning Together prisoner rehabilitation workshop at the Fishmongers’ Hall, close to London Bridge, in November 2019.
Jonathan Hough QC, counsel for the inquest, asked: "But wasn’t part of the function of MI5 not just to feed
in information, but to feed in their collective wisdom and experience that letting a convicted terrorist with
this profile go to an event in central London might be a matter to consider very carefully with a view to risk?"
This is our court artist's sketch of the "tardis" from which the MI5 witness is giving evidence.— Daniel De Simone (@DdesimoneDaniel) May 13, 2021
Worth noting that she can see out, but no one can see in pic.twitter.com/wI2LJJPmbF
Witness A replied: "I think at that time there was no intelligence to suggest that he should not be allowed to attend. The flip side occasionally that you also need to bear in mind is that preventing somebody from doing something can also have ramifications, and that would have been in mind, I’m absolutely sure, of those who were managing him in the community."
Mr Hough persisted: "From the perspective of a senior intelligence officer, though, would you not think that allowing somebody such as Khan to take their first trip outside of Stafford, other than to a prison, by going to London without an escort, posed some degree of risk that should be at least considered and discussed?"
"I think the team at the time would have been viewing those decisions as being taking part in the MAPPA (Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements) construct, and that had we had any intelligence of concern, then we would have been feeding it in through our CT (counter-terrorism) policing colleagues. We did not have such intelligence,” she replied.
Earlier Witness A said an internal review had cleared MI5 of any culpability.
She said: “The post-attack review concluded that MI5 could not have taken any other actions or made any decisions which would have materially changed the outcome of this case. Furthermore, the conclusion was reached that the investigative and operational decisions taken by MI5 in this case were sound.
The inquest heard Khan was was one of 40,000 people who stopped being a “subject of interest” in 2015 because it was thought he no longer posed a threat.
Witness A said convicted terrorists were obviously “subjects of interest (SOIs)” but later often became “closed SOIs” when they were not assessed to be a threat to national security.
She said that was the case with Usman Khan, who became a “closed SOI” in February 2015 despite MI5 considering he still had an “extremist mindset”.
He was released from prison on Christmas Eve 2018 - when he became an SOI again - and less than a year later he committed the horrific attack in central London.
Khan stabbed to death Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones during a Learning Together prisoner rehabilitation workshop at the Fishmongers’ Hall, close to London Bridge.
Witness A said at the time of the attack there were around 3,000 SOIs and 40,000 closed SOIs.
Mr Hough asked her about a report which said there was intelligence while he was in prison to the effect that: ”Khan has said that he will return to his old ways, believed to be related to terrorism when he is released