Reid: UK remains on high alert

The UK will remain on the highest possible alert following yesterday’s thwarted terrorist plot, the home secretary has said.

John Reid said the threat level would remain critical – meaning a terrorist attack is expected imminently – as a cautionary measure to protect the public.

Mr Reid thanked Pakistan for its help in foiling the plot to blow up passenger jets flying from Britain to the United States.

Speaking in London, he said the arrest of 24 terror suspects was “driven” by British officials but had an “international dimension”.

“We are very grateful for all the help from our international partners, including Pakistan,” he said.

He added that police thought they had the main suspects, “but we always err on the side of caution”.

Earlier today the Bank of England, under instruction from the Treasury, named 19 men connected with the foiled plots whose assets would be frozen.

Asked whether this would jeopardise the judicial process, the home secretary said the Treasury had informed him that it was normal procedure to publish names when assets were frozen.

Later today Mr Reid will chair a further meeting of Cobra, the civil contingencies committee, which Mr Blair chaired in the aftermath of the July 7th attacks on the London underground

With the prime minister away on holiday in Barbados, the home secretary stressed it was normal procedure for him to chair the committee, saying: “There is absolutely nothing unusual about that whatsoever.”

Mr Reid and transport secretary Douglas Alexander, who accompanied him at the press conference, will meet with the deputy prime minister and the national aviation security committee later today.

Airline passengers have been banned from taking hand luggage on board flights in the wake of the foiled plots. Mr Alexander said this would be discussed at the meeting, adding: “The heightened level of security will remain only as long as the situation demands and will be kept under review.”

Mr Reid also echoed his comments made yesterday that the only way to defeat terrorism was by uniting against it.

“This is a common threat to all of us and we should respond with a common purpose and common solidarity,” he said.

Responding to questions about the lack of trust in the government among certain parts of the Muslim community, he added: “The threat from terrorism is a threat to every individual and every section of British society.

“The terrorists and their attempts to massacre innocent people do not distinguish between people [of different faiths].”