United Kingdom

1 December After the British Home Secretary introduced the Counter Terrorism and Security Bill (The Bill) to Parliament, Cozen O’Connor, a legal firm, clarified the restriction on the payment of ransoms to kidnappers. The article states: “Note that the Bill does not prohibit payment of respect of any demands, but only those made wholly or partly for the purposes of “Terrorism”. Terrorism is defined in the Terrorism Act 2000 as the “use or threat of action designed to influence the Government or to intimidate the public or a section of the public; and is done for the purpose of advancing a political, religious or ideological cause”. Certainly this definition would capture most of the activities of ISIL, the IRA, al Qaeda, but could also capture the activities of lesser known organisations engaged in direct action in the fields such as animal rights, religion, environmentalism and politics. The Bill does not prohibit the making of payments in respect of ordinary non-terrorism related criminality. So, for example, the indemnification of insureds in respect of ransom or extortion claims made for purely private gain would fall outside the ambit of the new offence”.

8 December Ten members of a kidnapping gang are facing jail after admitting charges including kidnap, Possession of a Firearm, false imprisonment, blackmail and grievous bodily harm with intent. Damien Lowe (26) was kidnapped on 30 September during the early afternoon while talking to two friends on a street in Coventry. A van pulled up, the rear doors opened, three men wearing balaclavas and one with a gun, forced the victim into the van and drove off. The kidnappers forced the victim to give them the telephone number of relatives who they contacted within 2 hours of the abduction with a ransom demand of £60,000 (USD94,000). The gang cut off a little finger of the victim and sent it to his relatives and threatened to cut off another finger every hour unless the cash was paid. After receiving the severed finger, relatives agreed to pay £20,000 (USD31,000). The police traced the calls and mounted a surveillance operation on the location where the relatives left the ransom money. They followed the gang member who collected the money to a house and waited until three cars drove away under the cover of darkness. The victim was dumped down a secluded roadside grass bank. A delirious Mr. Lowe was rescued just hours from death by the West Midland Police’s Serious Organised Crime Unit (SOCU). Once the victim had been released, the police raided the house they had under observation and arrested members of the gang. The kidnapping lasted 36 hours.

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