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Terror watchdog to look into 'Anarchist Cookbook' case

Daniel Creagh who was acquitted on Friday for holding the book welcomed the decision but said 'the law needs to change'
Daniel Creagh was charged under Section 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000 after police found the Anarchist Cookbook at his home (AFP)

An independent watchdog tasked with reviewing the application of terrorism legislation in the UK is to inquire into the case of a London bus driver who was acquitted on Friday on terror offences for possessing a copy of The Anarchist Cookbook.

Daniel Creagh, a Muslim convert from North London, faced more than 10 years imprisonment after police searched his home in March and found a version of the book on his phone, and the equivalent of $780 in counterfeit 10-pound notes.

He was tried under Section 58 of the Terrorism Act for possessing a document "likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism" and also faced one count of control of counterfeit currency.

'Anarchist Cookbook' acquittal turns spotlight on 'draconian' UK terror law
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He was cleared on both counts at the Old Bailey on Friday.

In a statement read outside the court, Creagh called on Max Hill, the UK's independent watchdog of terrorism legislation, to launch "an immediate and full inquiry" into his case, stressing that police had agreed that he was "not an extremist".

Hill, in a tweet sent early on Sunday, said he would look into Creagh’s case as well as that of a Canadian far-right activist who was barred from entering the UK under an airport stop-and-search power known as Schedule 7, but warned "don't expect outright condemnation of either Schedule 7 or the Terrorism Act".

Speaking to Middle East Eye, Creagh welcomed the news, but called on Hill to go further and condemn the law.

"I'm happy that he's going to make an enquiry and I'm looking forward to seeing the outcome," he said.

"I think that he should condemn the law, because the law is ridiculous. Anyone can be arrested, even arrested for possessing an A to Z  [London street guide] book. The law needs to change."

Creagh added that he was "still shocked" after his acquittal and is now trying to rebuild his life.

I think that he should condemn the law, because the law is ridiculous.

- Daniel Creagh

His case has brought added scrutiny on Section 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000 which authorities can exercise even when there is no evidence of a plot.

Rizwan Sabir, a criminologist specialising in the study of British counter-terrorism policy, called the provision "draconian".

"It ignores the reason why a person holds or views such information or what they intend to use it for," Sabir told MEE on Friday.

"The reasons why you might possess The Anarchist Cookbook or a military training manual is irrelevant. It is the nature of the information that is a crime; not the intention of the person who views or possesses it.

"Terrorism laws are only ever meant to be used against 'terrorists'. When the state acquires such draconian powers that disregard criminal intent, the temptation to use them becomes ever stronger."