Two new photographs of Daniel Khalife, the terror suspect and former soldier who escaped from Wandsworth prison, have emerged.
Khalife, 21, sparked a nationwide manhunt after he fled the prison by hiding under a delivery truck in a chef’s uniform on Wednesday morning.
His escaped led to Border Force issuing a ports alert amid fears he could attempt to leave the country, which led to huge disruption at airports on Wednesday.
On Thursday, Kent Police have closed a section of the M20 and the Port of Dover warned travellers to expect delays as a result on “enhanced checks”.
Justice Secretary Alex Chalk has confirmed an independent investigation had been ordered into the circumstances of Khalife’s release amid questions about why he was not placed in a maximum security prison.
05:34 PM BST
No confirmed sighting of Khalife so far
The Met Police has confirmed there have not been any sightings of Daniel Khalife since he escaped from Wandsworth Prison on Wednesday, the Metropolitan Police has said.
05:13 PM BST
Perimeter checks too lax
Prison Officers Association Steve Gillian told Times Radio Wandsworth has too few perimeter checks.
He said: “I sort of think there’s not enough security like perimeter checks and things like that are being cut back. Different things. The day to day security. People aren’t getting enough time to do the security task that they should be doing.
“So, for example, the security of a prison is foremost in my mind, always has been. But getting the time to do the basics, such as like a cell fabric check, right. For instance, I’ve noticed that sometimes prison officers will rush it because there’s not enough time in the day.
“A fabric check would be checking the locks, the bolts, the bars, the fabric of the cell to ensure it’s not tampered with and so forth.”
04:54 PM BST
BidFood delivery confirms prisoner used its lorry
BidFood delivery has confirmed one of its lorries had been used in the escape.
In a statement it said: “Yesterday morning we were made aware of a security incident involving one of our vehicles, whilst out on delivery.
“We can confirm that our driver fully cooperated with the police on this matter before returning back to the depot. We will continue to assist the authorities in their ongoing investigation.”
04:47 PM BST
Wansdworth escape ‘was only a matter of time’
General Secretary of Prison Officers Association Steve Gillian has told Times Radio he wasn’t surprised when he heard about Daniel Abed Khalife’s escape and that he always thought it was “only a matter of time”.
Speaking to Times Radio, Mr Gillan said “brutal” cuts to the prison service had a role to play in Daniel Abed Khalife’s escape as “shortcuts” are being taken by the “seriously stretched” prison staff.
He said: “It’s been that way for a substantial amount of time, not just at Wandsworth but across the country. So Wandsworth yesterday, it could be another prison tomorrow, unfortunately. And your stats are pretty sound. Actual fact, because I spoke to the Wandsworth Play Committee this morning just to see how many staff were on duty. And you’re absolutely right, 1600 prisoners. And this is supposed to be a certified normal accommodation of just over 900, which means that’s the proper amount of prisoners that should be at once with. But they are grossly overcrowded by 600 prisoners that are sharing cells, doubling up for cells that should be for one person and to have 70 staff on duty for 1600 prisoners. Just demonstrates to your listeners the sort of stress that my members are under on a daily basis.”
04:44 PM BST
Wandsworth’s performance was ‘serious concern’
Wandsworth prison’s performance was rated as a “serious concern” by watchdogs before a former soldier accused of terrorism escaped.
It had issued a string of warnings about the jail in the past year.
The category B reception and resettlement men’s prison, which opened in 1851
03:45 PM BST
Pictured: New images of Daniel Khalife
Two new photographs have emerged of Daniel Khalife, the former soldier who escaped from Wandsworth prison on Thursday.
Khalife sparked a nationwide manhunt after he fled the prison by hiding under a delivery truck on Wednesday morning.
03:34 PM BST
Pharmacists urged to be alert to burn injuries
An ex-detective has urged pharmacists to be vigilant if anyone asks them for advice on how to treat burn injuries today.
Peter Bleksley said the truck Daniel Khalife was hiding under “certainly should have been stopped”.
He told Sky News: “These vehicles are searched thoroughly or should be on entry and exit from the prison, but clinging to the bottom of a vehicle if it’s got a petrol or diesel combustion engine is a pretty risky thing to do”.
He said that since exhaust systems “run the entire length of a vehicle like that”, the slightest touch will leave a “very unpleasant burn”.
02:55 PM BST
Recap: Key developments on Thursday
As the manhunt for escaped terror suspect Daniel Khalife continues, let’s look back at some of the developments today.
Justice Secretary Alex Chalk orders an independent investigation into Khalife’s escape will be help amid pressure from Labour and former prison chiefs to hold an inquiry
Mr Chalk also confirmed reports strapping was found under a delivery truck he used to escape from Wandsworth prison on Wednesday
More information has emerged on Khalife including that he is suspected of spying for the Iranian regime
Kent Police shut a stretch of the M20 and the Port of Dover warned travellers to expect delays as enhanced checks remain in place following a Border Force alert to all ports over fears Khalife could attempt to flee
02:17 PM BST
Ex-governor of HMP Belmarsh – Khalife escape was ‘possibly inside job’
John Podmore, who governed Belmarsh and Brixton Prisons, has told the World at One that the escape of Daniel Khalife from HMP Wandsworth could “possibly” have been an inside job.
Mr Podmore said Khalife “should have been in Belmarsh” and that he “couldn’t understand” why he wasn’t.
Speaking to Sarah Montague, he also said the decision to give Khalife a job in the kitchen at HMP Wandsworth was “quite astonishing”.
“The prison kitchen is a plum job. And it goes to the most reliable, allegedly reliable, trusted prisoners chosen by staff,” he said. “And it is a very vulnerable area. It’s where as we’ve seen vehicles keep coming, going in and out. goods coming in and out on a regular basis. It’s the kitchens usually close to the gate. So it’s a very vulnerable area. So you choose who goes there very, very carefully.”
Mr Podmore, who was previously an inspector of prisons, said of the prison system: “It certainly doesn’t protect the public because prisons at the moment are making people worse, they are not protecting the public.”
01:38 PM BST
Chief inspector of prisons – Wandsorth concerns raised over ‘number of years’
Charlie Taylor, the Chief Inspector of Prisons, told BBC Radio 4’s World At One programme that concerns at Wandsworth have been flagged over a number of years.
This is very concerning because Wandsworth had a previous escape in 2019 as well. Obviously any prisoner getting out of the jail is extremely rare event. But particularly a prisoner who’s accused of a terrorist offence makes it all worse.
But to some extent, our concerns about Wandsworth over number of years make it a jail that’s more likely for this sort of thing to happen. Particularly the lack of staffing which has dogged the prison. I think when we last inspected at the end of 2021. they were 30% short of staff.
“It may be that things have improved since we last inspected the jail. But certainly it’s been an ongoing issue with the prison, particularly as it is such an overcrowded but also very busy prison.
01:06 PM BST
Chief inspector of prisons – Staff shortages ‘source of many problems at Wandsworth’
The chief inspector of prisons has warned staff shortages are “the source of many problems” at HMP Wandsworth, where a suspected terrorist soldier escaped undetected.
Charlie Taylor said it is “concerning when anybody escapes from prison” and they are “now very rare”. But the nature of the allegations levelled at Daniel Abed Khalife made this case “extremely concerning”, he added.
Speaking to the PA news agency, Mr Taylor said it “should be standard practice” for vehicles entering and leaving the prison to be checked and a prisoner has to earn a “certain level of trust” in order to be allowed to work in a kitchen.
He said: “Something obviously went wrong in terms of security, and that will come out over time.
“But the issue that we are particularly concerned about is there are too many prisoners in Wandsworth for the amount of staff who are there. And that ultimately is the source of many of the problems in the jail.”
12:58 PM BST
Alleged terrorist suspected of spying for Iran
The alleged terrorist who escaped from Wandsworth prison and is still at large is suspected of spying for Iran, Martin Evans reports.
Daniel Abed Khalife, 21, broke out of the south London jail on Wednesday morning by clinging to the underside of a food delivery van.
Alex Chalk, the Justice Secretary, has ordered an independent investigation in the breakout after revealing that Khalife had been moved to the Category B prison despite being held on terrorism and spying charges and being considered a flight risk.
Khalife, a former soldier with the British Army, is facing two charges of breaching the Official Secrets Act and one of planting a fake bomb at an RAF base in Stafford.
The Telegraph understands Khalife is suspected of spying for the Iranian regime and he was due to stand trial at Woolwich Crown Court in November.
12:27 PM BST
Downing Street – Prison service needs more staff
Downing Street has rejected blame for the prison escape being apportioned to cuts to the prison service, but admitted there is a need for more staff.
Asked about claims cuts were to blame, Rishi Sunak’s official spokesman said: “That would be very much acting without all the facts. There is an investigation that’s taking place, that has just begun.
“We are delivering the biggest expansion of prison places in over a century. There’s an investment of £4 billion to create 20,000 extra places. We’re increasing pay to prison officers and so we are acting both to increase places and to boost staff.”
Asked whether the Prime Minister is concerned about staff shortages, the official said: “We recognise the need for more staff and that’s why we’ve increased the workforce by 4,000 since 2017.
We’re hiring 5,000 more across the estate in the coming years. We’re also boosting pay by 7pc so the starting salaries have gone from £22,000 to £30,000. And we’re retaining more staff. The resignation rate amongst junior prison officers is down around 2.5pc compared to last year.”
12:23 PM BST
Watch: Lorry makes delivery at HMP Wandsworth
12:09 PM BST
Labour – How on earth was this allowed to happen?
Responding for Labour, shadow justice secretary Shabana Mahmood urged Mr Chalk to “get a grip” of the criminal justice system.
She said of the prison escape: “This is an extremely serious matter and it has highlighted catastrophic and multiple failures, not just in respect of this case but of our wider criminal justice system.
“It simply beggars belief that a man being held on suspected terror charges was able to escape a prison by clinging to the bottom of a food delivery van.
“The simplest question for the Justice Secretary today is how on earth was this allowed to happen? How is such an escape even possible?”
Labour MP Dame Diana Johnson also questioned Mr Chalk on why Khalife was allowed to work in the prison kitchens, a role she understood was for trusted inmates.
11:59 AM BST
Alex Chalk – Daniel Khalife was ‘never in Belmarsh’
The Justice Secretary has reports Daniel Khalife was moved to HMP Wandsworth from HMP Belmarsh.
Mr Chalk made the clarification after Labour’s Shabana Mahmood questioned why he had been moved the maximum security prison to Wandsworth, a category B jail.
He said he wants all the preliminary answers in the inquiry into what happened on “my desk by the end of the week” before making a decision on what can be made public.
11:50 AM BST
Alex Chalk – Independent investigation will take place
Mr Chalk has told MPs that an independent investigation will take place following the former soldier’s escape.
He says he has ordered two urgent reviews – into the categorisation of all prisoners at Wandsworth and into those across the prison estate charged with terror offences.
Mr Chalk finished his statement by declaring Daniel Khalife will be found and made to face justice.
11:39 AM BST
Alex Chalk – Strapping found under vehicle
Mr Chalk has confirmed reports Daniel Khalife strapped himself under a delivery vehicle when he escaped from HMP Wandsworth.
He said the prison was put in lockdown and that police stopped and searched the vehicle in question.
He told the Commons: “What I can say is at approximately 7.30am yesterday morning, a vehicle which had made a delivery to the prison’s kitchen left MP Wandsworth. Shortly afterwards, local contingency plans for an unaccounted prisoner were activated and in line with standard procedure.
“The police were informed. The prison was put into a state of lockdown while staff attempted to determine Daniel Khalife’s whereabouts.”
“Strapping was found underneath a vehicle which appeared to indicate that Daniel Khalife may have held onto the underside of it in order to escape. The search is underway.”
11:37 AM BST
Justice Secretary makes Commons statement
Alex Chalk is now making a statement in the Commons.
11:27 AM BST
Police close motorway because of Port of Dover delays
Police have said a stretch of the M20 is to be closed due to delays caused by “enhanced security checks” at the Port of Dover and the Channel Tunnel.
It comes as a nationwide manhunt continues for Daniel Khalife who escaped from prison on Wednesday morning.
Police would not confirm the connection but said the M20 coastbound carriageway between Junctions 8 at Maidstone and 9 at Ashford, Kent was being temporarily closed due to delays caused by enhanced port security checks.
Kent Police says the closure will allow freight bound for the continent to queue on the empty section of motorway in order to keep any disruption to Kent’s wider road network to a minimum.
All EU-bound freight must use the M20 while all other traffic must follow the signed diversions.
11:19 AM BST
Investigation will have to consider ‘collusion’
Professor Ian Acheson, a former head of security at HMP Wandsworth, also questioned how a prisoner could escape without major failings in security given that the arrival and departure of the delivery vehicle should have been supervised at all points, by staff and CCTV cameras, with thorough searches underneath with mirrors on sticks, on the top and inside it.
“If there is to be an investigation, make it an independent investigation so the prison service isn’t marking its own homework. It will also have to consider whether there was collusion,” said Professor Acheson.
11:15 AM BST
Will government statement answer demands for independent inquiry?
As Justice Secretary Alex Chalk prepares to make a statement in Parlaiment, ministers have come under pressure this morning to order an inquiry into how Daniel Khalife escaped from Wandsworth prison.
Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, said an internal Government review would not be good enough to establish why Daniel Khalife was being held in a category B jail when he was considered a flight risk, whether security failings led to his escape and if staffing shortages played a role.
The call for an independent investigation was backed by Professor Ian Acheson, a former prison governor and a former head of security at HMP Wandsworth, who said the prison service should not be allowed to “mark its own homework.”
Ms Cooper said the escape was “extremely serious” and “grave questions” about “how on earth this could happen.”
“Why was a suspect charged with national security offences not being held in a high security prison. What were the security checks and the staffing levels,” she said.
“There have been a series of warnings about the situation at Wandsworth including the level of staff absences and lack of shifts being covered.”
A report by Wandsworth prison watchdogs last September found “significant staffing problems are adversely affecting the delivery of a consistent regime.”
“Although technically fully staffed, over 30 percent of staff are non-operational on a regular basis, for a number of reasons, rising sometimes to over 40 per cent,” said the independent monitoring board (IMB).
11:07 AM BST
Rishi Sunak – Public safety is our ‘paramount responsibility’
Rishi Sunak insisted prison escapes are “extremely rare” as a manhunt continues for terror suspect Daniel Abed Khalife as he rejected calls for an internal inquiry.
Asked by broadcasters on a visit to the University of Warwick why such a suspect was not being held in a Category A prison, the Prime Minister told broadcasters: “First thing I want to say is thankfully these incidences are extremely rare.
“I can’t give too many details because there’s an ongoing police operation, I hope people will understand that, but I want to reassure people that public safety is of course, our paramount responsibility.
“The Justice Secretary has initiated already an internal inquiry into the specific circumstances around this particular individual and this case but the most important thing now is for anyone if they have any information at all that they think is relevant to please contact the police.”
Asked whether there will be an independent inquiry launched as demanded by Labour, Mr Sunak said the “Justice Secretary has already initiated an internal inquiry into what the circumstances are surrounding this particular incident”.
11:01 AM BST
Labour raises concerns in Parliament over Khalife’s escape
Shadow chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Pat McFadden raised concerns in the Commons over Daniel Abed Khalife’s escape from HMP Wandsworth and asked for an update on the search.
He asked whether Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Oliver Dowden has questioned why a “terror suspect like Mr Khalife was being held at a lower category security prison like Wandsworth in the first place”.
Mr Dowden replied: “The Lord Chancellor has asked for an urgent investigation working with the Prison Service to find out the exact circumstances of what happened in respect of this escape.
“Clearly the initial law enforcement response will be led by the Home Office but I will be working with the Lord Chancellor, with the Home Secretary and others to ensure that we rapidly apprehend this individual and we learn the lessons of what led to this in the first place.”
10:20 AM BST
A closer look at HMP Wandsworth
Wandsworth Prison is a category B jail that was built in the 1850s and is one of the largest prisons in the UK with around 1,500 inmates.
In 2019 a remand prisoner escaped while awaiting transfer for a court appearance and in 2011 remand prisoner, Neil Moore, escaped after creating a fake email account and contacting the prison authorising his release.
The most high-profile escapee from Wansdworth was Ronnie Biggs, the Great Train Robber, who climbed over a wall in 1965 whilst serving a 30-year sentence.
10:11 AM BST
Government to make statement on escaped prisoner
The government will issue a statement on escaped prisoner Daniel Khalife at 11.30am, Sky News has reported.
10:07 AM BST
Port of Dover warns of delays because of ‘enhanced checks’
As the hunt for Daniel Khalife enters its second day, the Port of Dover has warned enhanced security checks will continue to cause delays.
Border Force issued an all-ports alert on Wednesday amid fears Khalife could try to leave the country, which caused huge disruption at British airports.
The Port of Dover tweeted this morning: “Due to a police matter there are currently enhanced checks on outbound traffic. Please be advised this is currently resulting in some delays at the port.
“However, our standard travel guidance remains unchanged and we will keep passengers updated if they can expect any alteration to their journey.”
After the manhunt was launched, passengers at Manchester Airport faced delays of about 30 minutes at security as extra passport checks were carried out. Gatwick Airport said additional security measures were in place.
09:51 AM BST
Lorry leaves HMP Wandsworth around same time prisoner escaped
At 7.50am on Thursday – around the time police said terror suspect Daniel Khalife had escaped under a lorry yesterday – a delivery vehicle pulled out of the main gates and left the prison complex.
The BidFood lorry had earlier entered Wandsworth prison for a routine delivery. It entered through the main entrance at 6.57am, after waiting several minutes to be admitted.
As other delivery lorries waited to be admitted from around 7am, including a Hovis bread van with the slogan ‘As good today as it’s always been’, prison workers, including officers, welfare and gym staff queues to clock on for the start of their shift.
It is not yet known what lorry Khalife escaped under and there is no suggestion any lorry drivers were complicit in the escape.
It is believed Khalife strapped himself under a vehicle to in order to flee the category B prison.
Many could be heard talking about Khalife’s escape and the impact on the prison, as banks of TV cameras filmed the morning’s activity outside the Victorian establishment.
09:13 AM BST
Ministers under pressure to order independent inquiry into Daniel Khalife escape
Ministers have come under pressure to order an independent inquiry into how a terror suspect escaped from Wandsworth prison by strapping himself underneath a delivery lorry, Charles Hymas, Martin Evans and Patrick Sawer report.
Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, said an internal Government review would not be good enough to establish why Daniel Khalife was being held in a category B jail when he was considered a flight risk, what security failings led to his escape and if staffing shortages played a role.
The call for an independent investigation was backed by Ian Acheson, a former prison governor and a former head of security at HMP Wandsworth, who said the prison service should not be allowed to “mark its own homework.”
09:01 AM BST
Michelle Donelan – Prisoner escapes ‘five times higher under Labour’
Despite remarks in a separate interview that Daniel Khalife’s escape should not be “politicised”, Michelle Donelan has now claimed prison breaks under a Labour government were ‘four or five times higher’.
The Science Secretary and Conservative frontbencher has done the morning broadcast where she has faced questions about how a former soldier accused of terrorism was able to escape from HMP Wandsworth.
She told ITV’s Good Morning Britain programme: “It’s extremely rare.
“If we look back over the last 10 years of this Conservative Government, the numbers are not comparable in the least to the amount of prisoners that escaped under Labour.
“It’s something like four or five times higher under their tenure. This is not an epidemic or anything of that nature. This is an isolated incident.”
08:47 AM BST
Ex-security chief at HMP Wandsworth – Prison escape ’embarrassing but not entirely surprising’
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Thursday, Professor Ian Acheson, a former head of security at HMP Wandsworth, said the breakout on Wednesday morning was “incredibly embarrassing” but not “entirely surprising”.
Well, at best, this is a catastrophic system failure that actually starts with the allocation of Khalife to Wandsworth and ends with a terror suspect working in a prison kitchen of an establishment in crisis (and) escaping in a vehicle.
So it’s incredibly embarrassing for the prison service but it’s not entirely surprising given what we know about what’s going on Wandsworth at the moment.”
I’m afraid to say that Wandsworth, like so many of our flagship prisons, is in freefall.
You’ve only got to look at the most recent inspections, and other monitoring reports, that reveal it’s filthy, it’s vermin infested, on any day 30-44% of frontline staff are unavailable to work.
Morale is awful. I mean, frankly, if you cannot even manage to get the bins emptied in a place like Wandsworth what else is going wrong?
08:41 AM BST
Michelle Donelan – Prison escape should not be ‘politicised’
Michelle Donelan has told LBC that Daniel Khalife’s prison escape should not be “politicised” as she insisted incidences are “extremely rare”.
We’ve always said that the prison estate needs an upgrade and we need to expand the capacity.
But I don’t think that we should draw a parallel between the two things here. It is extremely rare for a prisoner to escape.
In fact, I think there’s been five escapees in several years.
It is extremely rare. It’s unacceptable, but it is rare.
We shouldn’t politicise the topic, really. We should look at exactly what has happened and then how can we deal with that to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
08:31 AM BST
Normal service resumes at HMP Wandsworth
Telegraph reporter Patrick Sawer says normal service has resumed outside HMP Wandsworth as the investigation into Khalife’s escape continues.
As the morning wore on more Serco prison vans entered the jail as part of the routine process of ferrying prisoners to and from court appearances.
Nearby the wives and girlfriends of inmates waited with their children to be admitted to the prison for family visits.
Above the main gates under which Khalife carried out his audacious escape a union flag was flying, alongside the multi rainbow coloured LGBQT+ flag.
08:22 AM BST
Labour MP – I raised HMP Wandsworth staff shortages ‘many months ago’
Labour MP Rosena Allin-Khan, whose Tooting constituency includes HMP Wandsworth, has said she raised staff shortages at the category B prison “many months ago” with the Justice Secretary.
Ms Khan said she learned in December how seven members of staff worked a night shift looking after 1500 inmates.
Some staff members had also been asked to stay on for double shifts, she added.
“Undoubtedly when you have situation like this things will happen and people will make mistakes.
“And now someone is on the loose.”
08:14 AM BST
Recap: Escaped terror suspect may be trying to flee country
A suspected terrorist who escaped from prison by clinging to the underside of a delivery truck is feared to be attempting to flee the country on Wednesday night, Martin Evans, Charles Hymas and Patrick Sawer report.
A huge manhunt is under way for Daniel Abed Khalife, a former British Army soldier and computer specialist, who broke out of HMP Wandsworth just before 8am on Wednesday.
Counter-terror police put all ports on high alert amid fears Khalife would try to get out of the UK, and extra passport checks led to delays for passengers at some airports.
Ministry of Justice officials were left red faced after it emerged that Khalife – who is facing terrorism and spying charges – managed to break out of Wandsworth prison by hiding underneath a food delivery van as it left the prison grounds.
Read more here.
07:50 AM BST
Investigation under way into why Khalife was not held at maximum security prison
An investigation into why a former soldier accused of terrorism was not held in a prison with the highest security level is “under way”, Science Secretary Michelle Donelan has said.
Speaking to Times Radio on Thursday, she said that her understanding was that it was not “black and white” whether a terror suspect should be held in a category A prison, such as Belmarsh.
“So it’s my understanding it’s not as black and white about that as that,” she said. “So there is a an investigation checking that he was in the correct facility.
“It’s not as black and white, is my understanding, as to what category somebody under arrest for that those types of crimes should be in.”
Asked if Daniel Khalife had not been held in Belmarsh prison because it was full, she said it was “no secret” that prison capacity was an issue.
“In general, it’s no secret that prison capacity has been an issue, one that we are tackling,” she said. “That’s why we’re investing money to upgrade our prison estate and to increase the number of places by 20,000.”
07:48 AM BST
The Telegraph will be providing live coverage of the manhunt for escaped prisoner Daniel Khalife as it enters its second day.
Khalife fled from HMP Wandsworth by clinging to the underside of a delivery truck in a chef’s uniform just before 8am on Wednesday.
His escape sparked huge queues at UK airports as counter-terror police placed all ports on high alerts amid fears he could attempt to flee the country.
Follow this blog and the Telegraph website for the latest developments.