* UPDATE November 2017: Hackney council’s claim that its employment enquiries are “now” robust stands in tatters after another terrorist incident when one of its librarians admitted having claimed, falsely, that a bomb had been placed on an airliner at Gatwick. Jacob Meir Abdellak, above right, was jailed for ten months
WITHIN THE LAST FEW WEEKS this former Hackney council worker has been jailed for terrorism offences.
The Central Criminal Court (Old Bailey) sentenced Khalid Baqa to four years and eight months in prison for distributing jidhadist propaganda in Whitechapel (Royal London) Hospital chapel and on the Tube.
The father of six worked for Hackney council as a revenues officer, for two decades, from May 1991 until December 2012, when he was sacked after police revealed he was under investigation.
He was caught watching terrorist propaganda at his office workstation.
He was subsequently jailed in spring 2013 for two years on evidence he had produced CD-rom copies of beheadings films and extremist manuals.
Nobody at the council is thought to have had any indication of his extreme beliefs until 1996, when he grew a beard and started wearing traditional clothes. In the office he started to keep himself separate. If any colleagues pointed this out to management, nothing of any significance was done over the next 16 years of his employment.
Loving Dalston was still curious about how he had got a council job. Hackney replied that it had “rigorous and robust pre-employment processes and expects all employees to adhere to our code of conduct and equality and cohesion policies”.
This did not satisfy Loving Dalston, which then told the council of things in Baqa’s past that should have rung alarm bells when he was interviewed for the job of collecting council tax.
Hackney council admitted it was not aware of those matters.
Its second attempt at an answer was unlikely to reassure local taxpayers.
Version 2 went: “Mr Baqa began his employment with the council more than 27 years ago, and from our records we were unaware of any previous convictions at that time.”
Hackney would not say whether it had checked with the Criminal Records Bureau, now known as the Disclosure and Barring Service, although it added “we cannot comment further due [to] the passage of time”.
It said that its earlier reference to “rigorous and robust pre-employment processes” referred “to our current HR [human resources/employment] policies”.
So there you have it: the slightest hint that perhaps its safeguarding of Hackney citizens against criminal activity was not as “rigorous and robust” as it now is.
David Altheer 060818
* This article complies with the rules on spent convictions
* Photographs © David.Altheer @ gmail.com, and for sale for reproduction. Bigger format versions are usually available.
* Emboldened underscored words in most cases indicate a hyperlink, a reader service rare among websites. If a link does not work, it is probably because the site to which the URL refers has not been maintained. A link indicates neither approval nor disapproval by Loving Dalston.