An Israeli general wanted for alleged war crimes escaped arrest in the UK because British police feared an armed confrontation at Heathrow airport.
Documents seen by BBC News reveal how Major General Doron Almog managed to fly back to Israel when police failed to board his plane in September 2005. He stayed on board for two hours after a tip-off that he was facing detention. Police were concerned about a potential clash with Israeli air marshals or armed personal security on the plane.
Maj Gen Almog had flown to the UK for social and charitable visits to Jewish communities in Solihull, in the West Midlands, and Manchester. Lawyers acting for Palestinian campaigners lobbied the Metropolitan Police to act over allegations he had ordered the destruction in 2002 of more than 50 Palestinian homes in the Gaza Strip.
Campaigners say the homes were destroyed by the Israeli army as retribution for a Palestinian militant attack, in contravention of the laws of war protecting civilian property. Israel says destruction of Palestinian houses is among the necessary measures it takes to protect its citizens.
The Met initially refused to get involved, citing massive pressures on counter-terrorism teams in the wake of the London bombings. But the legal representatives successfully applied to a judge for an arrest warrant for a private prosecution.
When Maj Gen Almog arrived back in Israel, the planned arrest caused a minor diplomatic storm, with Israeli foreign minister Silvan Shalom describing the incident as an "outrage". In turn, the then UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw apologised to his counterpart for any embarrassment caused. Hickman and Rose, lawyers for the Palestinians, demanded an inquiry.
A spokesman for the Independent Police Complaints Commission said its review had not identified the source who leaked details of the planned arrest. It also concluded police had not broken rules by failing to board the aircraft to execute the warrant.
John O' Connor, a former head of Scotland Yard's flying squad, told BBC One's Breakfast programme: "All they needed to do was to stop the plane from taking off and negotiate through the Foreign Office." He said he felt the arrest had been "written off", putting "British justice is in the dock."
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These are the people you think are here to protect you and safeguard your interests. Think again.
Had this been anyone but an Israeli he would have been slotted in the departure lounge. Ask Jean Charles De Menezes.