Dover petrol bomb suspect named as counter-terrorism police take over

Counter-terrorism police are now leading the investigation into the Dover migrant centre firebombing and suspect a “hate filled” grievance may be behind the attack.

Kent police said the man suspected of carrying out Sunday’s attack was Andrew Leak, 66, from High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire. He was found dead at a nearby petrol station shortly after the attack..

Police stressed they had not classed the attack as terrorism at this stage, but the knowledge and tactics of specialist investigators were now thought necessary as the case developed.

DCS Olly Wright, the head of counter-terrorism policing south-east, said: “What appears clear is that this despicable offence was targeted and likely to be driven by some form of hate-filled grievance, though this may not necessarily meet the threshold of terrorism.

“At this point, the incident itself has not been declared a terrorist incident, but this is being kept under review as the investigation progresses.”

Police said counter-terrorism officers had been assisting the investigation since the start, as – the Guardian understands – has MI5, the security service that leads on combatting the threat of extremist far-right violence.

Leak arrived at the centre and “a number of crude incendiary devices were thrown outside and into the premises by a man who arrived at the scene, alone in a car”, police today said. Leak was found dead inside the car nearby, with two members of staff from the centre suffering minor injuries.

On Tuesday police said a search of a property on Monday in the High Wycombe area 118 miles away linked to Leak produced interesting results: “A number of items of interest were recovered, including digital media devices, which are being examined as quickly as possible.

“Due to the nature of the evidence gathered so far, it is clear that officers with specialist knowledge, resources and experience are best placed to lead this work to determine the motivating factors.”

Police added: “There is currently nothing to suggest the man involved was working alongside anyone else, and there is not believed to be any wider threat to the community in the High Wycombe area or in Dover.”

Wright added: “This was a traumatic incident for everyone involved, and the wider community, and we’re working hard to establish exactly what led to the events on Sunday morning.

“We understand that when counter-terrorism policing become involved, it can be worrying for some people, but I would like to reassure people that there is nothing to suggest any ongoing wider threat at this time.

Photographs of the suspected attack showed a man releasing a plastic bottle taped to a lit firework on Dover harbour’s Western Jet Foil, where Border Force officers process people who have crossed the Channel in small boats. The suspect was confirmed dead shortly after the incident.

For an act of violence to be treated as potential terrorism there needs to be a belief it may have been politically or ideologically motivated.

Speaking in the Commons on Monday, the shadow home secretary, Yvette Cooper, asked whether counter-terrorist officers were investigating the incident. “It does not make sense for them not to be,” she said.


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