Owners of ship seized in Channel consider suing police
By David Brown
The shipping company that owns the cargo ship boarded by anti-terrorist
officers in the English Channel is considering suing the police.
The Great Eastern Shipping Company said the search of the MV Nisha
was unnecessary, and criticised Scotland Yard's handling of
the operation. If it succeeds in suing for the delayed journey,
compensation could amount to tens of thousands of pounds per day.
The search took four days but the ship's arrival could be delayed
for weeks because the east London refinery where it had been due
to deliver its cargo of 26,000 tons of raw sugar is now processing
Sudhir Mulji, chairman of the Indian company, told Radio 4's Today
programme that he did not believe terrorists would have had enough
time to plant anything, because the ship sailed very soon after
it was booked. "The ship was not scheduled to come to England
until 6 November. The terrorists would have had to have moved
incredibly fast," he said.
Police could have discovered the timescale "by just asking
in England", he added. "The ship belongs to a British
company, it's chartered in England, the brokers are all English
- it was just a question of asking someone."
The 450ft MV Nisha was intercepted by the Royal Navy frigate
HMS Sutherland in international waters in the English Channel
on 21 December in response to a tip-off that it was transporting
noxious, hazardous or dangerous substances. It had raised suspicions
because, on its way to England, it had stopped in Djibouti. Neighbouring
Somalia is said to be a base of the al-Qa'ida terror group.
The MV Nisha, which had been scheduled to dock at the Tate
& Lyle refinery at Silvertown on the Thames on Christmas Eve,
was not given the all-clear until that day by anti-terrorist officers.
Assistant Commissioner David Veness, Scotland Yard's head of specialist
operations, said officers would remain vigilant. He said he would
not hesitate to take similar action again if there was a potential
risk to the public.