Why did a cafe owner receive a visit from a counter terrorism unit?

Mrs Angry is the publisher of Broken Barnet. In this guest post she describes how a local shopkeeper and parking campaigner received a visit from the counter terrorism squad.

Helen Michael is a cafe owner in North Finchley. As the spokeswoman for local businesses in the area Helen had taken a prominent part in campaigns to fight a new parking scheme, including designing, printing and distributing a poster blaming local Conservative politician Brian Coleman for a number of shops alleged to have closed as a result of the parking changes.

Helen Michael

After a complaint from a political agent, local police visited Helen and pointed out that she had broken the law by failing to publish her details on the poster.

She immediately took steps to amend this oversight, and the police assured her there would be no further action.

But many weeks later towards the end of June Helen was surprised to receive a second visit from two more police officers. These policemen informed her that they were from a special investigations unit at Scotland Yard that dealt with all sorts of things, including counter terrorism.

They wanted to talk to her about the poster, even though she had been told the matter was at an end by local police.

She was obliged to attend a two hour recorded interview at a local station, under caution, asked a bewildering series of questions such as:

  • “Was it just the traders of Barnet involved in the production of this poster?”
  • “How much did it cost to produce the poster?”
  • “Was the cost funded by the local traders?”
  • “Was the poster for and on behalf of the traders, did we discuss it, with whom, what about the pictures? Was it a culmination of ideas or my own?”
  • “If the poster was not an election publication what was the principal reason to produce the poster?”
  • “Was there any political input or intention in production of the poster?”

A brief investigation proved that the two detectives were from SO15, a counter terrorism unit. Continue reading