Alan Travis, home affairs editor
Ibrahim Magag is still missing after absconding from London on Boxing Day while being under a terrorism prevention notice
|The home secretary, Theresa May, claimed Ibrahim Magag (above) did not represent a direct terrorist threat. Photograph: Metropolitan police/PA|
A terror suspect who was supposed to be under surveillance managed to abscond on Boxing Day by simply calling a taxi, Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, has told MPs.
Ibrahim Magag, 28, disappeared from Camden, north London, on 26 December, despite being on a terrorism prevention and investigation measure (Tpim) to prevent him being involved in terrorism fundraising or travelling overseas.
In an urgent Commons question to the home secretary, Theresa May, on Tuesday, Cooper said: "Magag is still missing after 13 days and clearly the home secretary has no idea where he is." Police were alerted after he failed to attend his designated overnight residence address that night.
The shadow home secretary told MPs that a trade news service for London taxi drivers, Cabwise, had disclosed that Magag used a black cab at 5.20pm on 26 December.
Referring to May, she asked: "Is that true? Is she worried that the surveillance can be shaken off by jumping in a black cab? You should put national interest ahead of your political interests and stop ducking this. Isn't it time you took some responsibility and sorted this mess out?"
But the home secretary insisted the police and security services were devoting "significant resources" to finding Magag and he did not represent a direct threat.
"The government does not believe Magag's disappearance is linked to any current terrorism planning in the UK. Nevertheless, we are of course taking this matter very seriously. The police are doing everything in their power to apprehend Magag as quickly as possible," May said. "Although I cannot give operational details, I can confirm the police, security service and other agencies are devoting significant resources to the search for Magag."
She rejected claims by Labour MPs that Magag's disappearance was a direct result of replacing the control order regime with Tpims, which do not include the power to exclude individuals from London and other parts of Britain.
She said seven individuals had absconded while under control orders and six of them had never been found.
Cooper said David Anderson QC, the independent reviewer of terrorism laws, had supported the view that the decision to end the use of relocation powers had made it easier for terror suspects to abscond.
In response to questions, May said that for security reasons she was unable to say publicly whether the police hold Magag's passport, making it impossible for him to leave the country.
The high court had been told previously that Magag had travelled to Somalia for terrorist training and had been involved in fundraising and forging passports.
The Metropolitan police commissioner, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, later told MPs that he did not think the move from control orders to the new Tpims regime was a key factor in the case. He said the fact that one suspect had absconded under the new regime did not mean the whole system was a problem. The Met commissionerconfirmed that Magag's passport had been confiscated, but said he wanted to check that he had not applied for another as happened in a previous case.