UK Anti-Terror Chief Bob Quick Quits Over Pathway Memo Blunder
Britain's top counter-terrorism officer has resigned after a blunder in which he accidentally revealed a secret document to photographers that could have jeopardised an operation against al-Qaeda.
Assistant Commissioner Bob Quick had faced intense criticism from opposition politicians after revealing to photographers a memo marked "secret" with a briefing on a current counter-terror operation, codenamed Pathway.
The memo contained the names of several senior officers, locations and details about the threat to the UK from overseas.
Reports say that the planned attack was to take place "very soon" and be "very big".
Police were forced to bring their operation forward and arrested 12 men - 11 of whom are Pakistanis.
Gordon Brown said Mr Quick had said sorry for what went wrong and that he had thanked him for his long service.
The prime minister also said Pakistan's government "had to do more" to root out the terrorist elements in its country.
Eight addresses were searched in the north of England.
The alleged terror cell based in the North West was thought to have been plotting an attack in Britain.
Sources said the men discussed targeting nightclubs and shopping centres, thought to have included Manchester’s Trafford Centre and Arndale Centre.
Twelve men were arrested in Manchester, Liverpool and Clitheroe, Lancs. One man was British-born, the rest were Pakistanis staying on student visas. They ranged in age from a teenager to a 41-year-old man.
At least one suspect was held by armed officers in open view at Liverpool John Moores University, while another was shot with a stun gun.
Police said the arrests were part of an “ongoing investigation” and were searching premises for bomb-making equipment.
The mastermind of the alleged terrorist cell was believed to have been Rashid Rauf, an al-Qaeda suspect who was implicated in several other plots. He was reported to have been killed in a US drone attack in Pakistan last year.
The announcement of Bob Quick's resignation has itself caused a political row after London's Mayor Boris Johnson pre-empted a police statement by announcing his departure live on BBC radio.
Home Office sources said Jacqui Smith, the home secretary was "disappointed but not surprised" at the mayor of London's decision to pre-empt a police announcement by confirming the move, and Quick's replacement, on BBC Radio 4's Today programme.
The source said Smith was particularly "bemused" at Johnson's outburst because although Smith met Sir Paul Stephenson, the Metropolitan police commissioner, yesterday afternoon to discuss Quick's position and agreed with him then that it had become "untenable", Johnson had not been "in the loop" on the discussions and had only recently learned of the decision.
"It was Paul Stephenson's decision but she also felt Quick's position was untenable ... A timetable [to announce Quick's resignation this morning] was agreed last night, but Boris was not involved in that."
Smith did not have the power to sack Quick and wanted the police to take the lead in dealing with the matter. After discussing the matter with Stephenson, Smith then informed the prime minister.
Home Office sources say she did not have any discussions with Johnson, who was informed of Quick's decision to quit at 7.30am this morning.
Soon afterwards, Boris Johnson announced Bob Quick's departure on the radio. The assistant commissioner will be replaced by John Yates.