Hasan Suroor, a popular British columnist and journalist of Indian origin based in the UK was reportedly arrested by Metropolitan police after a sting operation by anti-paedophilia group Unknown TV. The group has told HuffPost India that he has been arrested under sections 14 and 15 of the Sexual Offences Act.
“A 65-year-old man has been charged with meeting a child following sexual grooming and is due to appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court today, Tuesday 11 November. Hasan Surour, of Sloane Avenue, Kensington and Chelsea, was arrested by British Transport Police officers at Deptford Bridge DLR station on Monday, 9 November,” a spokesman for British Transport Police told HuffPost India.
In the video which has been released by the group on Facebook, members of the group are seen ambushing Hasan Suroor on the street asking him if he texted a 14-year old girl discussing plans to have sex with her. Hasan Suroor is not said to have sex with the girl, but only discussing it with her over phone texts. He is seen admitting to having traveling from Chelsea to Deptford Bridge DLR to meet the girl in the video.
Suroor is seen defending himself saying, "But I told her I am old,” and that he as a clean record so far. Later in the video, he also asks for forgiveness by those from the activist group who ambushed him.
“Quite extraordinary that anyone of his experience of journalism should just keep talking to them and not ask for their ID or for a lawyer,” remarked Christine Beddoe, activist working against child sexual abuse in UK.
The vigilante group called Unknown TV was launched in September by demolition worker Charlie Gaines and his friends in south-east London. The group says that they have done over 20 such sting operations so far. This video was shot at 8PM GMT on Monday.
Speaking to The News Minute, a member of the group said that they had a tip-off about Hasan Suroor based on which they conducted the sting and conversed with him for three days pretending to be a 14-year-old-child. The member added that the screenshots of the text-conversation during the sting cannot be released as they are evidence in an ongoing criminal investigation.
According to Newshopper, the group sets up fake social media profiles for underage girls and make their age clear to anyone who approaches them and asks for a meeting. The conversations are handed over to the police after a meet is arranged and the group also ambushes the alleged paedophile in public. It is in one such sting that Hasan Suroor was ambushed and filmed.
Many vigilante groups operate out of the United Kingdom, and some like Unknown TV use even physical force to detain targets.
The Guardian reports that police have asked such groups from taking law into their own hands and placing themselves at considerable risk.