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Human Aid UK demands apology from Head of Met Police for harassment of staff and wasting charity resources

Monday 18th May 2020

London – In a letter sent today to Dame Cressida Dick, Human Aid UK (HAUK) [1]demanded an apology for heavy-handed policing by Counter Terrorism Officersduring a Schedule 7 border stop on 9th July 2019 [2]. At the stop, aid workers wereinterrogated[3], searched and all donations confiscated - only to be cleared andreturned 10 months later with no apology [4]. In its letter, the Chair of Human Aidalso raised concerns and evidenced a pattern of harassment [5] by Police and otheragencies, hindering legitimate charitable work at a time when scarce Policeresources are being diverted from credible risks elsewhere.

Human Aid has filed a formal complaint with the Independent Office for PoliceConduct detailing the harms that have resulted from this abuse of power by Police.

In his letter to Cressida Dick, Nur Choudhury, Chair of Human Aid said:

  1. “[the decision to intercept the aid delegation] became an effective - and‘lawful’ - way to prevent the aid mission from succeeding and preventvaluable lifesaving aid from reaching the besieged people of Gaza. This ispoliticised policing and damages our confidence in the independence of thepolice...”

Saghir Hussain, Lawyer for Human Aid said:

  1. “There will always be tension between the realpolitik of governments and theconcerns of the humanitarian sector. Therefore, the UK Government has toact within its own limitations on Assad’s tyranny of his own people andIsrael’s cruelty towards the Palestinian people, especially the siege of Gaza. However, when concerned citizens take personal risks to help the people ofSyria and Gaza, they should be applauded rather than be subjected to pettyand coercive policies.”

[Ends]

Notes to Editors:

  1. Human Aid UK aid victims of war and persecution, as well as addressing the root causes of conflict. We instil hope by standing up for their right to a life with dignity and freedom from oppression. We nurture citizens through programmes that connect their hearts to the oppressed
  2. On 9th July 2019, Human Aid UK (HAUK) delegates were stopped at Heathrow Airport by Border Police as they were about to travel to Gaza to deliver lifesaving aid. They were searched and monies they were carrying were seized. This happened after the Charity Commission had visited Human Aid offices only a day before to discuss, amongst other matters, cash carrying procedures on aid delegations. This seizure of money suddenly escalated into a Statutory Inquiry on 2nd August 2019. HAUK trustees became concerned with this premature escalation, before even allowing the charity to prove its innocence. However after wasteful policing and unnecessary extensions the police have confirmed that there is no illegality and havereturned the seized monies to the Charity.
  3. Metro:Metro: Muslim charity workers suffered ‘humiliating questioning’ by terror police during aid trip https://metro.co.uk/2019/09/15/muslim-charity-workers-suffered-humiliating-questioning-terror-police-aid-trip-10748062/
  4. Civil Society: Human Aid UK plans legal challenge against border police https://www.civilsociety.co.uk/news/human-aid-uk-plans-legal-challenge-against-border-police.html
  5. Third Sector: Charity Commission accused of 'undue scrutiny' of Muslim charities https://www.thirdsector.co.uk/charity-commission-accused-undue-scrutiny-muslim-charities/governance/article/1660369
  6. Middle East Eye: UK Muslim charity calls for an end to inquiry after police return seized funds https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/uk-muslim-charity-calls-end-statutory-inquiry-after-police-return-seized-funds

Press enquiries:

press@human-aid.org