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Labour calls for independent inquiry into Wandsworth prison escape | Politics News

Labour is calling for an independent inquiry into how a prisoner was able to escape from a London jail while awaiting trial for terror offences.

Daniel Abed Khalife, 21, is alleged to have escaped from Wandsworth prison – one of the UK’s largest – under a food truck.

Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, said the government “has grave questions to answer” regarding staffing and national security arrangements.

She told Sky News that an internal prison service inquiry “is not sufficientand Alex Chalk, the justice secretary, should launch an independent investigation.

“I hope he will announce some kind of independent investigation when he comes, I assume will come, to parliament this morning in order to answer on this,” Ms Cooper added.

Ms Cooper said the government needed to explain “issues around staffing and the arrangements for the national security prisoners and where they are being held”.

She added: “In particular we need to know why this individual was moved from Belmarsh, the highest security prison to Wandsworth, which is a lower security prison, as well as why the proper security checks weren’t in place on a van leaving the prison.”

Most UK terror suspects are kept in southeast London’s HMP Belmarsh – a category A prison which is considered the UK’s most secure.

Pressed on if it was fair to blame the government for the incident, Ms Cooper pointed to court delays and a backlog which still remains after the COVID pandemic.

She said this had resulted in the number of prisoners on remand awaiting trial reaching a 50 year high, putting pressure on the system.

She said: “We’ve got to tackle those court delays because that is putting the additional pressure on the prison system. That then means there’s a risk that prisoners are being moved around. And in this case, clearly with a lack of security in place, that he was able to to affect this escape.”

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