Conspiracy of Silence? AKA Suppose they started a race war and nobody noticed…

The Police raid two houses. In one they discover "a record haul of chemicals used in making home-made bombs", in the other the find "rocket launchers, chemicals, and a nuclear or biological suit".

It’s a terrorist plot, right? It’ll be all over the national news in a shot?

Wrong on both counts, apparently… because the two men caught with this nifty little haul of equipment aren’t Muslims, they’re BNP supporters, one of whom stood for election in Colne only last May.

Ex-BNP man held in ‘bomb’ swoop

A FORMER British National Party member has been arrested after police found bomb-making equipment at his house.

Police sealed off the home of Robert Cottage in Talbot Street, Colne, after storming the address and discovering chemical components that could be used to make explosives.

The 49-year-old has been arrested under the Explosives Act on suspicion of possessing chemicals that may be capable of making an explosion.

However Superintendent Neil Smith moved to reassure residents and stressed: "It is not a bomb making factory" and added that it was not related to terrorism.

Officers have been at the address since last Thursday and have been conducting door to door inquiries. Forensic officers have seized his car for examination.

Supt Smith added: "We are making inquiries in relation to what we have found at his address and to establish what offences he may have committed.

"He’s not a terrorist and it’s not a bomb factory but we are interested in what we have seized from his house. It will take expert advice to establish exactly what he has got.

"He was arrested under the Explosives Act on suspicion of possessing chemical substances that aren’t in themselves an offence to possess but if combined may be capable of making an explosion."

Cottage stood for the BNP in the May elections in the Vivary Bride ward of Colne.

However it is understood his membership had lapsed. – The Citizen, Burnley. October 2nd 2006

Yes, that’s right. That report is a four days old and it took the Police less than 24 hours to reach the conclusion that "He’s [Cottage] not a terrorist and it’s not a bomb factory" – and then the plot thickens…

Rocket launcher ‘found at dentist’s house’

A RETIRED Grange dentist is accused of being part of a bomb plot after a record number of explosives were seized in a Lancashire town.

David Bolais Jackson, 62, of Trent Road, Nelson, was arrested on Friday in the Lancaster area after leaving his Grange practice for the last time.

Jackson was charged with being in possession of an explosive substance for an unlawful purpose.

However, it is unclear who or what the intended target might have been.

Police found rocket launchers, chemicals, British National Party literature and a nuclear or biological suit at his home.

The find came shortly after they had recovered 22 chemical components from the house of his alleged accomplice, Robert Cottage, a former BNP election candidate, who lives in Colne.

The haul is thought to be the largest ever found at a house in this country. – North West Evening Mail, October 6th 2006

So now we’ve got explosives, chemicals, literature from and extremist political organisation and an NBC suit.

And then we have…

Chemicals Find: Two In Court
TWO Pendle men have appeared before Pennine magistrates accused of having "a master plan" after what is believed to be a record haul of chemicals used in making home-made bombs was found in Colne.

Robert Cottage (49), of Talbot Street, Colne, and David Bolus Jackson (62), of Trent Road, Nelson, made separate appearances before the court charged with being in possession of an explosive substance for an unlawful purpose. The offences are under the Explosive Substances Act 1883.

Both men were remanded in custody to appear at Burnley Crown Court on October 23rd. Cottage was arrested at his home on Thursday, while retired dentist Jackson was arrested in the Lancaster area on Friday, the same day as he left a dental practice in Grange-over-Sands.

The 22 chemical components recovered by police are believed to be the largest haul ever found at a house in this country.

Cottage is an ex-BNP member who stood as a candidate in the Pendle Council elections in May.

Mrs Christiana Buchanan, who appeared for the prosecution in Jackson’s case, alleged the pair had "some kind of masterplan".

She said a search of Jackson’s home had uncovered rocket launchers, chemicals, BNP literature and a nuclear biological suit.

Police raided Cottage’s Talbot Street home on Thursday of last week. The house was taped off while forensics officers searched the premises. Neighbours were told to stay in their homes for their own safety. Mr Cottage’s car was also taken away for examination.

Officers also made a thorough examination of Jackson’s Trent Road home and, again, officers were on duty outside the house. Forensics officers examined the property. – Pendle Today, 6th October 2006

So now the prosecutor claims that not only did Cottage and Jackson have the chemicals to make explosives, extremist literature, rocket launchers and an NBC suit but they also had a ‘masterplan’

…To do what exactly?

Okay, don’t try to answer that, it’ll be sub-judice at the moment.

However, its worth noting that, thus far, the two of them have only been charged under the Explosive Substances Act of 1883, and not under any of the much more recent anti-terror legislation, despite the claim that they had a masterplan, which implies a definite conspiracy.

It’s also worth noting that the CPS’s own guidance on explosives offences refers to use of the Terrorism Act 2000 as follows…

Where possession of an explosive substance is linked to a reasonable suspicion that it is for a purpose connected with an act of terrorism, an overlap occurs between Section 57 and other offences.

Note that the requirement within the 1883 Act that an offender must knowingly have an explosive substance in his possession is absent from the 2000 Act.

There is no limit to the type of article to which Section 57 can apply. Where an offender is found in possession of not only an explosive substance but also other items which fall outside the definition of an explosive substance, and the circumstances give rise to the statutory suspicion under Section 57 a charge under this section is likely to be the appropriate charge with regard to all the articles.

Would you not think that, maybe, possession of rocket launchers and an NBC suit might just fall into this definition of ‘other items’?

And would I be wrong to suggest that had the names of the two men in this case have been Iqbal Ahmed and Rafiq Hussein and not Robert Cottage and David Jackson, then the response of both the police and the media to this case would have been very different….

…or am I wrong in thinking that it it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck…?

Move coverage…

Blood & Treasure – large bomb apparently found, not many informed
Picked Politics – Ex-BNP member caught with “record haul” of explosive chemicals
Lenin’s Tomb – the bomb factory you won’t hear about