Who is Daniel Khalife & how did he escape from Wandsworth Prison?
Daniel Khalife, a former British Army soldier charged with terrorism and espionage-related offences, recently made headlines with his daring escape from Wandsworth Prison, a medium-security facility in south London.-
Daniel Khalife, a former British Army soldier charged with terrorism and espionage-related offences, recently made headlines with his daring escape from Wandsworth Prison, a medium-security facility in south London.
This audacious escape has raised numerous questions about the circumstances surrounding his incarceration, the ease of his escape, and the response of prison staff.
Why was a terror suspect in a medium-security prison?
One of the first questions that arises is why a serious terrorism suspect like Khalife was held in Wandsworth Prison rather than the high-security Belmarsh Prison. The Justice Secretary, Alex Chalk, has initiated an urgent inquiry into this matter. While Chalk mentioned that not all terror suspects are automatically placed in high-security prisons, Khalife's presence at Wandsworth remains puzzling. Contrary to initial reports, he had never been held at Belmarsh.
How did Khalife escape so easily?
Prison breaks are a rarity in the UK, making Khalife's escape all the more remarkable. He had secured a coveted position working in the prison kitchen as a chef. MPs were informed by Justice Secretary Chalk that strapping had been found on the underside of the van that Khalife had used to flee. An investigation is underway to determine how Khalife managed to exit the prison using such a seemingly simple method.
Standard procedure involves checking the undersides of vehicles with mirrors as they enter and exit the prison, making it difficult for anyone hiding underneath to go undetected. Security personnel were on duty at the time, but the extent to which proper procedures were followed remains unclear.
How long did it take for prison staff to alert the police?
There have been reports suggesting a significant delay in prison staff notifying the police about Khalife's escape. While it wasn't an hour, as initially reported, there was still a substantial time gap. The van left Wandsworth prison at 7:32 am, and the police were informed around 8:15 am, a gap of 43 minutes. During this period, Khalife had extra time to distance himself from the prison. The delay in alerting the police is under investigation.
Was under-resourcing at Wandsworth a factor?
Concerns have been raised about staff shortages compromising security at Wandsworth Prison, described as "crumbling, overcrowded, and vermin-infested" by inspectors. The chief inspector of prisons, Charlie Taylor, highlighted the impact of staffing shortfalls on the prison's operation. However, Chalk emphasised that staffing positions were filled on the day of the escape and stressed that the inquiry would focus on whether protocols were followed.
Could there have been collusion?
Former prison governor John Podmore suggested that Khalife's escape could have involved collusion from within the prison, although there is no concrete evidence to support this theory. The method of escape, which involved hiding under a delivery van, suggests a degree of sophistication and premeditation.
Additionally, counter-terrorism police are pursuing various lines of inquiry, including the possibility of collusion, as they continue their investigation into Khalife's escape. However, this does not appear to be a major focus at this time.
The escape of Daniel Khalife from Wandsworth Prison remains a perplexing and evolving story, with numerous unanswered questions that investigators are diligently working to resolve.