Fowzi Badavi Nejad: It is feared he would face the death penalty if he returned to his native Iran
The only terrorist to escape alive when the SAS stormed the Iranian Embassy in London 28 years ago will be freed from jail within days for a life on benefits. Â Â
Fowzi Badavi Nejad was told he had been granted parole on Tuesday – and assured he will not be deported back to his native Iran because of human rights laws.
Instead, in a decision last night attacked as ‘utter madness’, he will receive hundreds of pounds every week in free housing and benefits.
Trevor Lock, the policeman held hostage in the siege, told the Daily Mail he had written to the Government objecting to Nejad’s release, but this had been ignored.Â
‘He shouldn’t be allowed to stay in this country,’ he said. ‘He will be living off the UK taxpayers.’
The move also risks causing a diplomatic row with Iran, which has demanded the 50-year-old’s return so that he can face trial for the murder of two hostages during the siege. This would lead to an inevitable death sentence.
The threat of capital punishment is why his lawyers have been able to argue that he must stay in Britain.
He and five other terrorists forced their way into the Iranian Embassy in Kensington in April 1980, taking 26 hostages.
The gang were demanding independence for a part of Iran and the release of comrades.
Siege: Armed police outside the Iranian embassy in 1980
Premier Margaret Thatcher ordered in the SAS after the terrorists murdered a hostage six days into the siege.
A second hostage was killed by the terrorists as the SAS smashed through the windows in a spectacular operation witnessed live on TV around the world.Â
Nejad was sentenced at the Old Bailey in 1981 to life imprisonment for conspiracy to murder, false imprisonment, possession of a firearm and two charges of manslaughter.Â
He became eligible for parole three years ago and, after being initially refused, his application was approved last week. He will not be granted asylum, but will instead receive ‘leave to remain’.
Mr Lock, 68, who tackled the leader of the terrorists while the SAS stormed in, said his home had been fitted with CCTV and an alarm by the Government, presumably in preparation for the release.
Shadow Home Secretary Dominic Grieve said: ‘This is disturbing. The public will want to know that the Government have exhausted every possible alternative.’
Tory MP Patrick Mercer, a security adviser to the Prime Minister, said: ‘That a terrorist who has taken part in murders and then stayed in prison at the taxpayers’ expense should be granted parole and given benefits because we cannot get rid of him strikes me as utter madness.’
Whitehall sources said Nejad, who is likely to live in London, would be placed under strict restrictions.Â
He will initially be able to claim the full range of benefits, including free housing, council tax benefit and job seeker’s allowance. The bill is likely to be more than Â£1,000 a month.
Home Office insiders say they will, however, next year try to make him subject to new laws which put convicted terrorists who cannot be deported under Special Immigration Status.
Nejad will be denied the right to work, access to social housing and to mainstream benefits. Sources say the idea is to make him go voluntarily.
A Government spokesman said: ‘Our aim is to deport people as quickly as possible but the law requires us to obtain assurances that the person being returned will not face certain death.’