Worker phones bomb threat to biscuit factory just as Cameron drops in

The Fox's Biscuits site in Batley
The Fox's Biscuits site in Batley
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A biscuit factory worker sparked a terrorism alert after he made a hoax bomb threat at the firm where he worked.

A court heard Irfan Liaqat dialled 999 and told the operator that a number of bombs had been placed at Fox’s Biscuits, Batley, and were due to explode.

On the day of the incident, November 9 last year, prime minister David Cameron was visiting another Fox’s Biscuits site in Uttoxeter, Staffordshire.

The hoax cost the company around £36,000 after 550 members of staff had to be evacuated from the Batley site and production was disrupted for around three hours.

Leeds Crown Court heard the incident also caused disruption to Staffordshire Police and the Metropolitan Police’s counter terrorism unit.

The court heard police were unable to put an exact figure on the cost to the forces.

Liaqat, of Albion Court, Heckmondwike, was jailed for 18 months yesterday after pleading guilty to two offences of communicating false information.

John Bull, prosecuting, said Liaqat started work at the factory through an agency on September 19 last year.

At 1.49pm on November 9 he contacted emergency services and gave the operator a false name. He claimed he had received text massages stating that bombs had been placed at the factory and were due to go off that day at 2.30pm, 6pm and 9pm.

Mr Bull said Liaqat hung up two minutes into the call and the information was passed to the operations manager at Fox’s Biscuits.

The prosecutor said: “Given the limited time available the decision was taken to evacuate the factory.”

Liaqat made a further 999 call three days later in which he referred to bombs at the same factory.

That call was not treated as an emergency as the operator was confused by the content of the information.

Police launched an investigation and traced the number which had made the calls to a man called Steven Whittaker. Officers spoke to Mr Whittaker and he told them he had lost his phone in the back of a taxi months earlier.

Police then spoke to the operators at Mr Whittaker’s local taxi firm and it was discovered that Liaqat had previously worked as a driver for the company on a part time basis.

His home was search and the sim card from the phone was found in a kitchen drawer.

The court heard Liaqat had made two hoax phone calls to the police in June of the same year, claiming there had been disturbances at the taxi company where he worked. He also alleged that drivers had been taking drugs and alcohol.

After being arrested Liaqat said he had made the calls after being guided by voices in his head.

He also claimed he made the calls as he did not want to go to work as his colleagues had been talking about him.

Richard Gioserano, mitigating, said: “The reason behind his desire not to work is not simply because he fancied a day off, but that he was suffering from a psychotic episode.”

Mr Gioserano said his client was suffering from serious depression at the time of the offences but understood that his actions were wrong.

The barrister said Liaqat, a married father-of-one, had no previous convictions.

Jailing Liaqat, recorder Ian Harris said: “I do not find any political or ideological motivation in your offending.

“If there had been it would have significantly aggravated the position.

“This offending was selfish and deliberate, as well as causing financial loss.”

Stephen Blake of the CMA  Photo: Vikki Ellis

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