June 05, 2009

Nerve poison ricin feared at suspect's home

Traces of the deadly poison ricin may have been discovered at the house of a suspected white supremacist, police said today.

Anti-terror officers raided the home of Ian Davison in Myrtle Grove, Burnopfield, County Durham on Tuesday. Since the 41-year-old former pub DJ's arrest under the Terrorism Act 2000 forensic officers have been examining the terraced property.

Assistant Chief Constable Michael Barton said: "Specialist police officers have been carrying out a meticulous search of the property which is a 'two-up two-down' terraced house. They have uncovered a substance, which we believe has traces of Ricin. It was in a sealed jam jar that has been kept in a kitchen cupboard - apparently for up to two years. Tests on the substance were carried out at a Government laboratory in Edinburgh on Thursday."

Speaking at a press conference at the force HQ in Durham City, Mr Barton added: "Specialists from the Ministry of Defence establishment at Porton Down are due in Durham today to discuss the safe transfer of the substance to their laboratories for further tests. That transfer will take place under a police or military escort and their report should be finalised in the next few days.

"Purely as a precautionary measure the search of the house has been halted for the time being. The property is cordoned off and remains secure and under police guard. Specialist help has been offered by government agencies. Durham Police is liaising with them and will continue to work closely with our local partners and other services until this is over."

Davison was being quizzed by officers from Durham Police and the North East Counter Terrorism Unit at a police station in West Yorkshire. Also arrested in Tuesday's operation was Davison's teenage son Nicky, 18, who was held on suspicion of inciting racial hatred following a swoop at his home in Grampian Court, Annfield Plain. However, he has since been re-arrested and is also now detained under the Terrorism Act in West Yorkshire.

Durham Police said the arrests followed a long-running intelligence-led operation against extreme right-wing activity.

Mr Barton continued: "Because of the find the search of the house will be continued by officers in specialist protective clothing. That search is likely to last for several days. There may be other suspicious items in the property. Staff are on a heightened state of alert to what could be found and a cordon will remain in place until experts confirm there are no further suspicious substances at the address.

"Immediate neighbours to the house, who are fully supportive of the police operation, are being spoken to about the latest developments. They are being given advice and will be kept fully informed. On scientific advice we are told there is no need for them to be evacuated. I would again like to reassure people in Burnopfield that the substance found was sealed in an airtight container prior to its removal.

"As such no one is believed to have been exposed to the substance or be at risk of any potential ill-effects. We do not believe that there is any risk to public health. Public safety remains our priority and we are grateful for the ongoing patience and co-operation of local people while these inquiries are concluded."

Ricin has been used in plots by suspected al Qaida operatives and can be fatal if when inhaled, ingested or - most dangerously - injected. It is made from the beans of the castor oil plant and is 6,000 times more poisonous than cyanide. Experts say that 70mg or two millionths of an ounce - roughly equivalent to the weight of a single grain of salt - is enough to kill an adult.

To cause mass casualties ricin would need to be either used in aerosol form or as an additive to food or drink. Ricin was used by the Aum cult on the Tokyo subway system in 1995 in an attack that left 12 people dead.



DisgustedOfTunbridgeWells said...

I'm sure we all eagerly await the home secretary telling the 'white community' to get it's extremists in order.

eric the fish said...

Without prejudice to the investigation, I am reminded of the Fascist retort, 'Not all Muslims are terrorists but all terrorists are Muslim'.

Given the low percentage of people charged after being arrested we should urge caution but interesting nonetheless.

Anonymous said...

I trust that the police will be carefully examining the hard drives of any computers for terrorist instruction sheets, and kiddy porn.

Its funny how these seem to go together !

Old Sailor

Anonymous said...

Aum used sarin, not ricin. Pedantic I know but there you are.

Anonymous said...

Wasn't Ian Davison the former (?) NF member who ran off the join the PLO in the late 80s or early 90s?

Anonymous said...


The ages don't seem to tally but the rest of the profile does. I suspect it's the same guy and the Independent has his age wrong.

DisgustedOfTunbridgeWells said...

Wasn't that guy a Geordie carpenter ?

Might fit in with Durham, then again that guy could still be in a Cypriot prison.

Lets wait and see.

DisgustedOfTunbridgeWells said...

Bit of information on the 'original' Ian Davidson, again we don't know that they're one and the same.



thepoisongarden said...

As someone already said, the Tokyo attack was with sarin which has nothing to do with ricin. I've contacted the Independent to complain about this, and other errors.

Ricin is an extremely difficult substance to use successfully.

The piece says 'Ricin has been used in plots by suspected al Qaida operatives' which is complete nonsense. Ricin has never been used in a terrorist attack.

Anonymous said...

Nice to see people jump to conclusions to link the two events, despite there being a 23 year gap between them. There are two compelling reasons to believe they're not the same people:
1) I'm sure, as it is a common name, that there might be more than one person with this name
2) The newspapers usually have to check basic facts, such as ages, before they print articles.