January 5, 2016 / 9:58 PM / 4 years ago

British lawmaker demands answers after militant slips away to Islamic State

Britain's Home Secretary Theresa May (C) speaks in front of Spain's Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz (Right of May) and U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch (R), France's Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve (Left of May) and German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere (L) at Lancaster House, in London, December 10, 2015. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

LONDON (Reuters) - Six weeks after a prominent militant who is suspected of killing for Islamic State slipped out of Britain, police sent a letter to him demanding that he surrender his passport, a British opposition lawmaker said on Tuesday.

Though no link has been officially confirmed, the masked militant who was shown killing five men in an Islamic State propaganda video is believed to be Siddhartha Dhar, a Londoner who once sold inflatable bouncers.

Britain’s interior minister, Theresa May, faced questioning on Tuesday in parliament over how Dhar could have slipped away in 2014 while on police bail after his arrest on suspicion of belonging to a banned group and encouraging terrorism.

“Even if the correct procedures were followed, I have evidence that they were far too weak,” Andy Burnham, the home affairs spokesman for the opposition Labour Party, said in parliament.

Burnham said he had a copy of a letter to Dhar setting out the bail conditions - including surrendering his travel documents - that was sent six weeks after the militant had left the country.

In one letter, Dhar was urged to contact the police by telephone to explain his changed circumstances, Burnham said.

“It is clear that Mr Dhar had left this country long before that letter was sent. As I have said, regardless of which individuals might be in the video, this particular individual has absconded and the Home Secretary (interior minister) needs to provide answers,” Burnham said.

“Does that in any way sound like an adequate response to the seriousness of the charges?” Burnham said in parliament.

May, who refused to comment on speculation about the identity of the English-accented militant in the Islamic State video, said Britain had tightened exit controls and that the decision on whether to place a suspect on police bail was an operational matter.

Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Gareth Jones

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