Hero policeman who tried to save bomb victims turned into a spy for organised crime

PC Mohammed Malik was a hero to his family, friends, community, and fellow police officers – but his ‘unblemished reputation’ masked his entanglement in a dark web of serious organised crime.

When he first joined Greater Manchester Police, Malik championed better relations between the Muslim community in Rochdale and the force, and looked forward to being an ‘example’ for other young people from a similar background to his own.

In the years that followed, PC Malik earned commendations from his superiors for tackling drug dealing in Manchester city centre.

And on one fateful night in 2017, walking to his car after a long shift on the beat, he even found himself at the centre of tragedy – passing by Manchester Arena at the time of the bombing.

Instead of fleeing, he put his life on the line and ran towards danger to help the victims of the horror blast.

Yet, Mohammed Malik’s early promise as a committed protector of his home city gave way to something far more sinister.

Today, the 37-year-old former PC sits behind bars, jailed after his double life as an underworld mole was exposed.

In exchange for cash, Malik would send information from police systems to an organised crime group (OCG). Criminals relied on his information to know which cars were being watched, so they could avoid stops and surveillance. Their inside man, Malik provided advice on avoiding detection, even tipping off one crime ‘bro’ that ‘police were at his doorstep’.

Anyone could be forgiven for mistaking this story as a plotline from the most recent season of BBC detective series Line of Duty.

But the officer’s fall from grace happened in real life, right here in Manchester.

Mohammed Malik, from Rochdale, first began his career with Greater Manchester Police in 2009.

Coming from a community that did not have strong links with policing, Malik was a trailblazer in the force, Liverpool Crown Court would later hear.

He should have been a ‘role model’ for youngsters looking up to him. For a while, he was.

He positioned himself at the forefront of a campaign to progress ‘community cohesion’ between the police and the Muslim community in Rochdale.

In 2010, just after joining the force, Malik captained a sports and faith group’s football team in a friendly match with Greater Manchester Police players, intended to bring the two sides closer together and encourage dialogue.

As his career got underway, PC Malik proved himself to be invaluable to his new employers at GMP.

He earned two police commendations for working to crack down on drug dealing in Piccadilly Gardens, and he was among the first responders to the Manchester Arena bombing in May 2017.

The officer had been on his way home, through Manchester city centre, at the time of the fateful attack.

He attempted to rush to the aid of the victims, but, he says, faced a number of off-putting comments from those in the surrounding area.

Witnesses noted he was a man of Asian descent – accusing him of being involved in the terrorist attack based on his ‘skin colour and that he had a rucksack with him’ – a court later heard.

The comments prevented Malik from entering the Arena to help with casualties, though he remained outside to help.

The experience left Malik in need of counselling for depression, anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder.

But the officer remained on active service in the police. He passed his sergeant exams, and with an ‘unblemished’ record, PC Malik was an obvious candidate for promotion.

However, unknown to his colleagues, in the months before the bombing, Malik had become increasingly involved with organised crime.

In January of 2017, the officer went to meet an old colleague from a previous job, Mohammed Anis.

Both dads with young families, they then embarked on an ‘unhealthy relationship’, giving rise of a conspiracy that would continue for more than a year until they were arrested in November 2018.

Anis would ask Malik to search for both people and cars on the Greater Manchester Police (GMP) internal systems, helping Anis in his business of providing cars for serious and organised crime groups.

First Anis would send images of cars and names of individuals he wanted Malik to look for through Snapchat and WhatsApp.

Malik would frequently promise to ‘check next time he was in’, searching GMP’s intelligence database to find out if police officers were monitoring cars being used by organised crime group (OCG) members, or if there was any information known to police about Anis and his associates.

After the searches, the serving police officer would send these details back to Anis, again via calls, Snapchat and WhatsApp.

Anis would then pay hundred of pounds to Malik for providing the results on a monthly basis, with investigators finding up to £600-worth of payments in bank transfers, with potentially more in cash that could never be traced, heard the court.

Anis even asked Malik to add intelligence to the database around one car, an Audi, saying Malik had seen it himself, so the next time it was spotted by GMP officers it would be stopped on suspicion of drug dealing.

It seems Anis had become frustrated that an OCG member had either kept a car too long, or had not paid for use of the vehicle on time.

Malik’s response was: “I have put this on our ANPR system. It will get stopped seven to 10 days from now, max.”

The ‘transactional relationship’ only escalated as it went on, with Malik providing help to Anis on how to keep one step ahead of police, telling him ‘bro stop driving flashy cars, don’t give them a reason to pull you over’, and ‘no more private reg which turns heads’.

After Anis asked his ‘helpful police officer’ to run checks on two supercars, Malik warned Anis: “Yeah bro, they know about the Ferrari R8 and the Lambo.”

And when attention grew into Anis’ activities, Malik told him on WhatsApp ‘don’t do business for a bit’, adding that he should ‘set up [business] under someone else, but not straight away’, it would later emerge in court.

Malik also searched a Seat Leon in the GMP system after it was recovered by police with a bullet hole in its bumper, before threatening to withdraw his services when Anis was not paying up on time.

Eventually, the conspiracy spiralled to the point where Malik tipped off Anis that police were outside his house in Randale Drive in Bury – and helped Anis to make a false report about a burglary at the address in order to claim insurance money.

Anis was finally caught when he collected just shy of a kilo of cannabis, stashed in Asda carrier bags, from another man in Hartis Avenue, Salford.

‘Minutes later’, police pulled over the car he was driving and discovered the bags in the boot – the drugs worth as much as £7,500.

The discovery led to Anis, and his inside man Malik, being charged with three counts of conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office.

Malik pleaded guilty in the early stages of the Crown Prosecution Service’s case, but, in the face of what a judge would later describe as ‘frankly, utterly overwhelming evidence’, Anis denied it, before being found guilty in a trial at the end of May.

Until then Malik had no previous convictions, while Anis, who admitted possessing cannabis with intent to supply, only had a caution on his criminal record.

Both Malik and Anis were jailed at a hearing last month. Malik was sentenced to 28 months imprisonment, while Anis was sentenced to 46 months.

Malik’s lawyer, Mohammed Nawaz, said the offences marked a ‘massive fall from grace’ for the suspended police officer, adding: “Mohammed Malik is under no illusion as to how serious these offences are. He knows that the breach of trust and public duty are extremely serious matters.

“Prior to these corruptions, he was unblemished. He had passed his sergeant exams and was awaiting promotion.”

Meanwhile, Anis’ defence, John Harrison, said: “Mohammed Anis did encourage a breach of trust.

“He was put up to this by somebody else. He shouldn’t have been put up to these requests [for information].”

Sentencing, Judge Andrew Menary QC told the disgraced officer he had undermined public trust in the police, adding: “For a period of about 12 months from February 2017 and January 2018 you were involved in a corrupt relationship with your friend Mohammed Anis.

“At times throughout this period you were each involved in the dishonest exchange of information and intelligence for money.

“This information came from confidential GMP computer systems and was of direct benefit to organised and serious criminal groups or those such as you, Mohammed Anis, who were involved in the shady business of providing cars to organised criminals so that they could carry on their activities off the police radar.

“Having a friendly police officer who could supply inside information was a potentially very useful resource.

“It allowed criminals or those supporting criminal activity to be forewarned of police interest in them and their illegal activities or simply to know what the police knew about them and their activities.”

This story would be enough to warrant a trademark ‘Mother of God’ from Superintendent Tad Hastings of Line of Duty’s fictional anti-corruption unit, AC-12.

His real life counterpart, Detective Superintendent Steve Keeley, of GMP’s Anti-Corruption Unit, said: “At GMP we expect the highest standards from all of our officers as part of their duty to serve the public, and it’s clear here that Malik failed to do this and is rightly being punished for his crimes.

“This is a good result that sends a strong message to anyone involved in corruption that we will investigate and will pursue prosecutions to bring those responsible to account.”

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