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White Widow Samantha Lewthwaite may have been guest at Duncan Bannatyne hotel

By Laura Abernethy

The world's most wanted woman - Banbridge-born 'White Widow' Samantha Lewthwaite - has been spotted checking into a hotel owned by Dragons' Den star Duncan Bannatyne, reports have claimed.

Police are investigating after a woman resembling Lewthwaite, the widow of July 7 bomber Germaine Lindsay, checked into the four-star hotel in Darlington, Co Durham on Boxing Day.

A hotel spokeswoman said "police are looking into it", but declined to comment further.

Lewthwaite (32) is being hunted by Interpol after she was linked to a series of attacks in Africa.

The mother-of-four is thought to have fled Britain for Africa before joining militant group al-Shabaab after the 2005 attacks in London in which 52 people were killed.

She has been accused of involvement in a series of atrocities including two in Kenya - the 2013 attack on Nairobi's Westgate Mall and the Garissa University College massacre last April. More than 200 people died in the attacks.

Lewthwaite is originally from Northern Ireland.

Her soldier father Andrew was stationed here in the 1970s, when he met her mother Christine Allen. Lewthwaite was born in Banbridge in 1983 and lived in Northern Ireland with her family for several years while her father worked as a lorry driver.

The family then moved to Aylesbury in England. After converting to Islam at 17, Lewthwaite changed her name to Sherafiyah and married July 7 bomber Germaine Lindsay.

In 2013, after reports of her involvement in the Nairobi attack, her grandmother Elizabeth Allen, still living in Banbridge at that time, was hospitalised. It is understood she was given a panic alarm to contact security services if her granddaughter made contact.

In 2014, it was reported that Lewthwaite was in Syria training women to become suicide bombers. She allegedly helped Islamic State with propaganda videos including the beheadings of westerners.

A Durham Police spokeswoman said: "Police received a report that a woman said to resemble Samantha Lewthwaite had checked into Bannatyne's Hotel, Darlington, on Boxing Day. Inquiries are currently taking place."

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