Ex-soldier Daniel Khalife has pleaded not guilty to escaping custody at Wandsworth prison where he was on remand after being charged with terror offences earlier this year.
Khalife was arrested on Saturday, September 9, after being pulled off a bicycle on a a towpath near Rowdell Road in Northolt by a plain clothes anti-terror detective.
He is charged with escaping custody on September 6 while on remand at Wandsworth pending trial at the Old Bailey, contrary to common law.
The 21-year-old appeared via video link from HMP Belmarsh at the Old Bailey to deny the charge. Khalife, who was wearing a blue and yellow sweatshirt, said: ‘I am not guilty.’
He is accused of escaping from prison on September 6 by allegedly strapping himself to the underside of a food delivery vehicle.
A major operation involving anti-terror police and the security services MI5 and MI6 was launched following Khalife’s alleged jail breakout.
Daniel Khalife, 21, has been charged with escaping custody at HMP Wandsworth, the Metropolitan Police said
Khalife was pulled off a bicycle by a plain clothes anti-terror detective on a canal towpath
He was arrested and brought into custody following his four-day escape from prison
In a statement following the arrest, the Met Police said: ‘Daniel Abed Khalife, 21, will appear in custody at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Monday September 11 charged as follows: On the 6th day of September 2023, then being a prisoner in His Majesty’s Prison at Wandsworth, being remanded in custody pending trial as ordered at the Central Criminal Court on the 21st day of July 2023, escaped, contrary to common law.’
The Met said a member of the public reported seeing a man matching Khalife’s description walking away from a Bidfood van that had stopped near the south entrance to Wandsworth Roundabout on Wednesday morning.
Officers then carried out a search in the Richmond area and, although Khalife was not found there, the force received a number of calls from the public with sightings of the suspect nearby.
Police were seen checking people’s gardens, stopping cars, inspecting car boots, and asking residents for their IDs throughout Saturday morning.
Earlier this month, it emerged around 40 inmates of HMP Wandsworth have been moved out of the Category B prison after terror suspect’s escape, the Justice Secretary has said.
Khalife made it less than 10 miles from the jail following his escape earlier this month
Justice Secretary Alex Chalk said the preliminary findings of his investigation into the ageing London jail have found that the relevant procedures and security staff were in place.
But he said dozens of individuals on remand have been moved to different sites ‘out of an abundance of caution’ amid questions over why a former soldier accused of a terror offence was not in the highest security prison.
Mr Chalk told Sky’s Sunday Morning With Trevor Phillips: ‘Out of an abundance of caution, some prisoners there – some of those on remand – have been moved (this week).
‘Additional resources have, of course, gone into Wandsworth, so there’s additional governor support, a former governor with particular expertise in security.
Khalife has pleaded not guilty to escaping from Wandsworth prison
The former soldier previously appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court
Hundreds of police were involved in the operation to recapture Khalife, who escaped the Category B prison
‘But also, out of an abundance of caution, around 40 prisoners have been moved just while we get to the bottom of what took place in Wandsworth. That is a sensible, precautionary measure.’
Khalife, 21, remains in police custody after he was dramatically arrested earlier this month in the north-west London suburb of Northolt after four days on the run.
Mr Chalk, discussing the preliminary findings of a review he issued, said the investigation has looked into whether protocols were in place relating to the unloading of food from a van and searching the delivery vehicle.
‘Those protocols were in place, point one,’ he said. ‘And point two, the relevant security staff were also in place.
‘Plainly what we’ve yet to establish is whether those protocols were followed.’
He said he will set out ‘next week’ the terms of reference of the separate independent investigation to ensure that the conclusions are ‘rock solid’.