In the Media

Judge criticises bombers' law firm

PUBLISHED July 13, 2007

A firm of solicitors which represented some of the July 21 bombers has been strongly criticised by the trial judge.

Mr Justice Fulford QC said Arani & Co, who represented Muktar Said Ibrahim and Yassin Omar, had made a series of "wholly unjustified" complaints to Belmarsh Prison.

The attack comes as four of the bombers were jailed for life for conspiracy to commit murder and told they will serve a minimum of 40 years. The two other defendants, Adel Yahya and Manfo Asiedu, will face a retrial after the jury failed to reach a verdict in their cases.

Justice Fulford said the "relentless and blistering" attack on prison staff by the firm was merely a "smokescreen".

During the trial, the court heard allegations that Mudassar Arani's firm sent ?600 to one of the defendants who she did not represent to try and persuade him to change his case to suit Ibrahim's.

Justice Fulford did not mention these allegations today.

But he did accuse the firm of launching a string of unjustified complaints against prison staff.

He said: "It has come to my attention that Arani & Co, the solicitors acting for Ibrahim and Omar, launched a relentless and blistering attack in the name of the defendants they represent on some of the staff at HMP Belmarsh.

"I consider these complaints ... to be wholly unjustified.

"The number of legal visits afforded to that firm has been a considerable amount.

"I wish to stress that in my judgment prison staff did all they could, indeed all they should, to facilitate a high number of visits by Arani & Co."

He added: "I consider the complaints that I have seen, made against the staff of HMP Belmarsh, on the subject of inadequate pre-trial legal visits, some of which were expressed in extremely intemperate language, were no more than a smokescreen."

He added that no other solicitors or legal representatives had made such complaints in relation to other defendants and that they had carried out their duties in a highly professional manner.

During the trial, the court heard allegations that Miss Arani's firm sent ?600 to another defendant Manfo Kwaku Asiedu while he was in custody in Belmarsh.

Miss Arani was also alleged to have sent Asiedu an Eid card signed "lots of love".