Dover petrol bomb: counter-terror police probe attack on immigration centre - has suspect been named?

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Police say there’s nothing to suggest anyone else was involved in the planning of the firebombing of a Dover immigration centre

Counter-terror police are leading an investigation into the firebombing of an immigration processing centre in Dover which detectives suspect was sparked by “some form of hate filled grievance”.

Kent Police said the man suspected of carrying out Sunday’s attack was 66-year-old Andrew Leak from High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire.

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After throwing two or three “crude” incendiary devices Leak is believed to have killed himself at a nearby petrol station, police said. A Reuters photographer at the scene said a man threw petrol bombs with fireworks attached before killing himself.

The attacker was described as a white man wearing a striped top, who drove up to the centre in a white Seat sports utility vehicle, the agency reported.

Two people inside the centre at Western Jet Foil were left with minor injuries. Although the site remained open, 700 people were moved to the nearby Manston processing centre for safety reasons.

What have police said?

Police say they believe Leak was working alone, and that despite the involvement of counter-terrorism police in the investigation, what happened has not at this time been declared a terrorist incident.

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Detective Chief Superintendent Olly Wright, head of Counter Terrorism Policing South East said: “This was a traumatic incident for everyone involved, and the wider community, and we’re working hard to establish exactly what led to the events on Sunday morning.

“We understand that when Counter Terrorism Policing become involved, it can be worrying for some people, but I would like to reassure people that there is nothing to suggest any ongoing wider threat at this time.

A police officer covers a car by the migrant centre in Dover, which was firebombed. Credit: PAA police officer covers a car by the migrant centre in Dover, which was firebombed. Credit: PA
A police officer covers a car by the migrant centre in Dover, which was firebombed. Credit: PA | PA

“What appears clear is that this despicable offence was targeted and likely to be driven by some form of hate filled grievance, though this may not necessarily meet the threshold of terrorism. At this point, the incident itself has not been declared a terrorist incident, but this is being kept under review as the investigation progresses.”

What happened at Western Jet Foil?

Kent Police were called at 11.22am on Sunday to The Viaduct, where two to three incendiary devices had caused a fire. The migrant centre in Dover port is used for processing migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, who travel across the Channel on small boats.

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Dover MP Natalie Elphicke said people at the Border Force migrant centre are being “looked after” following the “dreadful” attack.

The emergency services erect a tent around the car allegedly involved in an incident near the migrant processing centre in Dover, Kent. Credit: PAThe emergency services erect a tent around the car allegedly involved in an incident near the migrant processing centre in Dover, Kent. Credit: PA
The emergency services erect a tent around the car allegedly involved in an incident near the migrant processing centre in Dover, Kent. Credit: PA | PA

She said the motivation of the perpetrator is so far unknown, but the centre is “a well-known facility” where small boats arrive before people are taken to the Manston asylum processing centre in Kent.

The Tory MP told LBC Radio: “It’s an absolutely dreadful situation that we have now at Dover,” she added. “I understand that all the people who are at the centre are being looked after and precautions are being made for their safety”.

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It comes after Home Secretary Suella Braverman said it would be her “dream” to deport refugees to Rwanda by Christmas. Elphicke said “tensions have been running high” over immigration and that she would not use some of the Home Secretary’s language on the issue.

Emergency services near the migrant processing centre in Dover, Kent, following an incident. Credit: PAEmergency services near the migrant processing centre in Dover, Kent, following an incident. Credit: PA
Emergency services near the migrant processing centre in Dover, Kent, following an incident. Credit: PA | PA

What has the Home Office said?

A Home Office spokesman said: “We are aware of an incident at Western Jet Foil, Dover, and police are in attendance. It would not be appropriate to comment further at this stage.” Kent Fire and Rescue Service confirmed its crews had put out fires.

Speaking on Monday Home Secretary Suella Braverman said the “shocking” incident was not being treated as a terror attack, telling MPs in the Commons: “My thoughts are with all of those who are affected. I have received regular updates from the police.

“While I understand the desire for answers, investigators must have the necessary space to work.”