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A convicted tenant is apparently on the run after being found guilty of perverting the course of justice by attempting to implicate his landlord’s partner in the Westminster Bridge terrorist attack.
Gerald Banyard of Whalley in Lancashire, who is 67, sent two handwritten notes to police days after the attack suggesting there may have been a second person involved in its planning.
The Metropolitan Police said their investigations established the person being implicated was entirely innocent. It also established that Banyard had sent the notes out of spite for his former landlord.
At Southwark Crown Court, Banynard was this week found guilty of two counts of perverting the course of justice. He is due to be sentenced on a date to be confirmed.
However, Banyard failed to attend the verdict hearing. A warrant for his arrest was issued by the judge, and he is now being sought by police.
‘In the immediate aftermath of the Westminster attack, our main priority was to establish whether the attacker might have plotted with others, and whether there was any outstanding threat. This involved scores of officers working around the clock and pursuing various lines of enquiry in order to keep the public safe’, said head of the Met’s Counter Terrorism Command, Commander Richard Smith.
‘Banyard looked to exploit an extremely tragic and serious situation to try and settle what was a private dispute with his landlord. His actions meant that counter terrorism resources were diverted to investigate what turned out to be a completely fabricated story which implicated an innocent man. His actions were disgraceful and completely reckless and I hope this conviction demonstrates how seriously the police and courts take this type of offending’.