Photo of Harry Cohen

Harry Cohen (Leyton and Wanstead, Labour)

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department on what date (a) the police first reported the discovery of traces of ricin in the London flat used by Kamel Bourgass and his associates and (b) Porton Down chemical and biological weapons research centre first indicated that there was no ricin in the flat; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Charles Clarke

Charles Clarke (Home Secretary; Norwich South, Labour)

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 by Dstl 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 rich.

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