Were UK police ordered to demand the names of Charlie Hebdo buyers?

Reuters / Fabrizio Bensch
Newsagents believe police officers who demanded the identity of people who bought special editions of the controversial Charlie Hebdo magazine had been given “clear orders,” although UK police forces have denied issuing the command.

The Daily Mail reports British police forces say they didn’t give orders to take the names of Charlie Hebdo buyers. The police claim officers who went to newsagents selling the magazine did so to “ease community tensions.”

In January this year, two gunmen stormed the office of the satirical magazine in Paris, killing 12 people. The first edition after the attack quickly sold out in France. Some 2,000 copies were also sold in Britain.

Newsagents reacted angrily to the police denial. Deborah Merrett, a newsagent in Powys, told the Daily Mail: “The way that they have denied it and claimed that they wanted to know about the sales for our own protection is rubbish.”

READ MORE:Charlie Hebdo sells out hours after hitting UK shelves

She said police had approached her to ask for names of buyers and whether they live in the area, but “as soon as they did I told them I would not be disclosing customers’ names.” She added customers had since come to her, begging her not to disclose their names.

The South Wales Police Prevent team told Mail Online that no directive had ever been given to question newsagents over the names of magazine purchasers.

READ MORE:Charlie-divided? Poll shows over 40% of French oppose Mohammed cartoons

According to Breitbart News, the National Counter-Terrorism Policing unit received a list of all UK newsagents that sold Charlie Hebdo from distributor John Menzies.

The Daily Mail reported that this list was then passed to the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), who then wrote to police forces whose jurisdictions included those newsagents selling the magazines.

“This was done so that local officers could be aware of any potential tensions on their beat arising from the sales of the magazine, given the situation following the killings,” a spokesman for ACPO said