Reprieve for unlikely victims of the 'War' on Terror

19 November 2010

Today Liberty announced that clients Fred Grace and Gemma Atkinson of Fat Rat Films will not face contempt of court proceedings for filming a terror suspect under restrictive immigration bail conditions.

After contact from lawyers at Liberty, the Attorney General decided that any further action would not be in the public interest.

By allowing the filming in his home Hussain Saleh Hussain Alsamamara breached his strict bail conditions.  This resulted in the threat of proceedings against Grace and Atkinson - if prosecuted they could have been jailed for simply doing their job as independent filmmakers.

James Welch, Legal Director for Liberty, said:

”Fred and Gemma’s film raised important questions about the way we treat people that the Government suspects of involvement in terrorism but doesn’t want to prosecute.  It raised issues that should be, and indeed were, the subject of public debate.  It is a terrible shame that they had to live with the threat of prosecution – thankfully good sense has prevailed.”

Gemma Atkinson and Fred Grace, of Fat Rat Films, said:

“Over the last six months we have had to live with the prospect of spending up to two years behind bars, for the apparent crime of telling a man's story. To us, it is unbelievable that in 21st century Britain the government can hold a man without trial or charge for over four years. It is sinister that they can then threaten two people with imprisonment for making a film about it.”

Despite never being charged or tried, Alsamamara has been living under severe immigration bail conditions since his arrest in 2004. The terms of his bail include a stringent curfew, electronic tagging, no access to the internet and restrictions on his use of communication equipment.  He also may not have any electronic storage devices on his premises. 

As a result of the breach Alsamamara was brought before the Special Immigration Appeals Committee (SIAC), in an attempt by the Home Office to send him back to high security prison. Although his bail was extended, Mr Justice Mitting said that consideration should be given to contempt of court proceedings against the filmmakers. 

Journalists contact: Liberty’s press office on 020 7378 3656 or 07973 831 128

NOTES TO EDITORS

  1. Fred Grace and Gemma Atkinson’s film on Hussain Saleh Hussain Alsamamara was shown on Newsnight on 16 June 2010. Although Alsamamara was in breach of his bail conditions by taking part in the filming, Newsnight decided to broadcast because of the high level of public interest and debate about the use of highly restrictive bail and control orders in terrorism cases.