No charges after anti-terror raids

All 12 men arrested over a suspected bomb plot in the UK have now been released without charge by police.

Eleven - all Pakistani nationals - have been transferred to UK Borders Agency custody and face possible deportation.

Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police Peter Fahy defended the "extremely complex" inquiry and said he was not "embarrassed or humiliated".

However, the Muslim Council of Britain said the government should admit it had made a mistake.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown's spokesman told reporters: "We are seeking to remove these individuals on grounds of national security.

"The government's highest priority is to protect public safety. Where a foreign national poses a threat to the country, we will seek to exclude or deport them where appropriate."

However, lawyers for the men point out that they have not been charged and are innocent of any crime.

Of the 12 men arrested in raids in Liverpool, Manchester and Clitheroe in Lancashire, 11 were Pakistani nationals, with 10 holding student visas. One was from Britain.

The Crown Prosecution Service decided there was insufficient evidence to press charges or hold them any longer.

Greater Manchester Police led the inquiry and Mr Fahy said: "I do not believe a mistake has been made.

"I do not feel embarrassed or humiliated about what we have done. We carried out our duty."

He added the fact the raids had to be brought forward after Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Bob Quick accidentally revealed secret documents to photographers had not affected the outcome.

'Lawful pursuits'

Lawyer Mohammed Ayub, who is representing three of the men, said in a statement: "After 13 days in custody, during which no evidence of any wrongdoing was disclosed, they have now been released without charge.

"Our clients have no criminal History, they were here lawfully on student visas and all were pursuing their studies and working part-time. Our clients are neither extremists nor terrorists."

Inayat Bunglawala, of the Muslim Council of Britain, said the government had been "dishonourable" over the way it had dealt with the men.

Mr Bunglawala told the BBC that when the arrests "took place in very dramatic circumstances of students being arrested at university and thrown to the floor" the public had been assured the men posed a serious threat.

He said it was unacceptable for the government to make these sorts of prejudicial remarks from the outset and then, having found insufficient evidence to bring charges, to deport the men anyway.

'Premature remarks'

"Politics should not be interfering with what is primarily a legal process," he said.

"What we don't want is people becoming cynical as a result of politician's premature remarks and thinking: 'well, that's what they said last time'."

BBC security correspondent Gordon Corera said: "I think there will be a sense of a need to learn some lessons from this is in terms of public presentation."

Assistant Commissioner Quick - the UK's most senior counter-terrorism officer - quit his post a day after the operation.

However, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith told MPs on Monday the error had not damaged the operation and the only impact had been that the raids had been brought forward "by a matter of hours".