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Street cleaners held in Pope probe | News

In Prime Time News on September 17, 2010 at 6:35 pm

News

Five men have been arrested by police investigating a suspected plot to harm the Pope

Five men have been arrested by police investigating a suspected plot to harm the Pope

Street cleaners held in Pope probe

Counter-terrorism detectives have been questioning five street cleaners suspected of plotting to attack the Pope.

The men were arrested at gunpoint as armed officers swooped on their central London depot as they prepared to start their shift.

They are employed by for Veolia Environmental Services, a contractor which employs 650 on-street staff to keep the streets of Westminster clean.

Searches of the depot, and their homes in north and east London, did not reveal any weapons or suspicious materials but senior detectives said they were compelled to act after a tip-off about suspicious activity.

The security alert led to a review of the huge police operation surrounding the visit of Benedict XVI, but his itinerary went ahead as planned. His spokesman said the Pope was informed of the arrests but remained “totally calm” and will continue to enjoy his trip.

The police operation began shortly before 6am on Friday at Veolia’s Chiltern Street depot, in Marylebone, where staff are responsible for cleaning surrounding streets.

The suspects, aged 26, 27, 36, 40 and 50, were held on suspicion of preparing an act of terrorism under the Terrorism Act 2000. It is understood all five are of North African origin, including several from Algeria.

Senior officers said there was no information ahead of the visit to suggest any “specific group” wanted to attack the Pope. But they warned people not to underestimate the “passion and the fervour” the visit would bring.

Police also interviewed mentally unstable people who they feared may pose a threat to the Pope.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: “The policing arrangements for the Papal visit were reviewed and we are satisfied that our current policing plan remains appropriate. The itinerary has not changed. There is no change to the UK threat level.”

Street cleaners held in Pope probe | News.

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