Veil airport etc Britain’s border controls were condemned as "non-existent" yesterday after it was claimed the suspected murderer of a policewoman fled the country by disguising himself as a veiled Muslim woman.
Police reportedly believe that Mustaf Jamma, a prime suspect in the fatal shooting of Pc Sharon Beshenivsky, used his sister’s passport and wore a full niqab to evade checks at Heathrow airport.
Shadow Home Secretary David Davis insisted there should be an urgent inquiry.
At the time of the 26-year-old’s apparent escape between Christmas Day last year and New Year’s Day, he was one of the UK’s most wanted men and the airport was on high alert in the wake of the July 7 bombing attacks.
But it is thought that staff rarely ask those departing Britain to remove veils in order to make sure their identification is valid.
A BAA Heathrow spokesman said: "Immigration control staff always do a visual check on people coming into the country but only random checks are made with outgoing passengers." Mr Davis yesterday insisted an urgent inquiry was needed into the breach.
"The idea that under any circumstances you could be let through passport control wearing a veil is barely credible," he said.
"Doing so when an All Persons Bulletin for murder has been issued demonstrates that our borders are not just porous but non-existent."
Detectives have vowed to catch both Jamma, who is thought to be in Somalia, and Piran Ditta Khan, who is also on the run.
Pc Beshenivsky was shot and killed on November 18 last year as she arrived at the scene of the a robbery in Bradford city centre on the day of her youngest daughter’s fourth birthday.
Yusuf Abdillh Jamma – the fugitive’s younger brother – from Birmingham, was unanimously convicted of the 38-year-old officer’s murder earlier this week and Muzzaker Imtiaz Shah earlier admitted the charge at Newcastle Crown Court. They will be sentenced tomorrow along with two other men – Faisal Razzaq and his brother Hassan – who were convicted of her manslaughter.
A spokeswoman for West Yorkshire Police later said the force would not comment on any speculation about how Jamma left the country.
West Yorkshire Police Federation chairman Tom McGhie said rank-and-file officers in the force would be "extremely upset" to hear how Jamma apparently left the UK.
Mr McGhie said: "We have concerns that someone who was wanted for a serious offence was able to avoid detection and escape the country by this type of subterfuge."
Dewsbury Labour MP Shahid Malik said he could not believe Jamma could have escaped in this way and called for an inquiry.
Mr Malik, who recently spoke out against a teaching assistant in his constituency who fought for the right to wear the veil in the classroom, said it was normal for women to remove veils at airport checks for identification.
The MP said the issue appeared to be one of gross incompetence within airport security.