Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 17 April 2014

Researcher 'had bombing conviction'

London Metropolitan University researcher Jawad Botmeh has been suspended over a conviction in 1996

A researcher at London Metropolitan University has been suspended after it emerged he was convicted 17 years ago for his involvement in a car bombing of the Israeli embassy.

Palestinian-born Jawad Botmeh was sentenced to 20 years in jail in 1996 after he was found guilty of conspiracy to cause explosions in the UK.

Released from jail in 2008, Botmeh has been working as a research manager at London Met's Working Lives Research Institute (WLRI) for five years.

Botmeh was suspended on February 7, the Unison London Met Uni branch said, while union activist and London Met research administrator Max Watson was also suspended.

Professor Steve Jefferys, director of London Met's Faculty Advanced Institute for Research (FAIR) and head of WLRI, was also suspended on Wednesday for "potential gross misconduct", the Unison London Met Uni branch said.

Last year, the Government revoked London Met's highly-trusted sponsor (HTS) status for sponsoring international students after more than a quarter of a sample of those studying at the university did not have permission to stay in the country.

Botmeh, along with Samar Alami, were convicted on the basis that they were part of a UK-based terrorist cell which, acting alone, planned to sabotage the Middle East peace process. Two car bombs were set off outside the embassy in Kensington Palace Gardens and the offices of a Jewish charity in north London. No-one was killed.

Botmeh and Alami lost an appeal against their conviction in 2001, although they gained far-reaching support from groups including Amnesty International and Gareth Peirce, solicitor for the wrongly jailed Birmingham Six.

Unison's London Met Uni branch insists that Botmeh declared his conviction when he applied for the role and was suspended shortly after he was elected as a staff governor.

A London Met spokesman said: "London Metropolitan University has a duty of care to all its staff, students and partners. It is undertaking investigations and has nothing further to add at this time."

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