Photo of Michael Meacher

Michael Meacher (Oldham West and Royton, Labour)

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department on which day staff from Porton Down alerted (a) the police and (b) Ministers about the error that had been made in statements issued that ricin had been found in the flat occupied by Kamel Bourgass; and what action was taken by (i) the police and (ii)Ministers when it was found that an error had been made.

Photo of Charles Clarke

Charles Clarke (Home Secretary; Norwich South, Labour)

holding answer 6 June 2005

An initial test conducted by Dstl Porton Down on 6 January 2003 on an exhibit taken by police from the flat occupied by Kamal Bourgass gave an apparent positive result for ricin. However, confirmatory tests which were conducted throughout the period from 7 January 2003 to 28 January 2003 failed to detect the presence of ricin.

Ricin was identified and confirmed on 7 January, 2003 in a second exhibit, consisting of 22 castor beans seized from the flat. Nicotine poison was also identified and confirmed. Other materials, specifically mentioned in the poison recipes recovered from the flat were also found including acetone and isopropyl alcohol.

The Prosecuting Counsel (Mr. Sweeney QC), Crown Prosecution Service, was verbally informed of the ricin test result at a case conference on 20 March, 2003 by Dstl. The Metropolitan Police Anti-Terrorist Branch was also represented at the meeting where the information was provided. The result was also provided in a written statement which was made available to the Crown Prosecution Service and the metropolitan police at that time.

Further tests on the first exhibit on 27/28 April, 2003 also did not detect ricin.

We do not have a record of the date this information was passed from the police to the Home Office and subsequently to Ministers.

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