THE leader of a Swindon mosque has rubbished suggestions that a Muslim cleric linked to a suspected terrorist group was teaching children in the town.

The claim has arisen following news that a Muslim Metropolitan Police officer is taking legal action against the force after he was removed from an elite protection squad.

Former Swindon resident Amjad Farooq, 39, was a member of Diplomatic Protection Group SO16 , a close protection unit in charge of guarding dignitaries including Tony Blair.

But Mr Farooq was relieved from his duties after a counter-terrorism check (CTC) revealed he was a threat to national security because his children had been taught at the Jamia Mosque in Broad Street.

The CTC flagged up the mosque's iman Abdul Rashid as having links to terrorist groups.

However, Azim Khan, secretary of the Thamesdown Islamic Association and general secretary of the Jamia Mosque, said he was "shocked and saddened" that his mosque had been tarred with a link to extremism.

"The iman they are talking about left three years ago and he did not have any links to terrorism," Mr Khan said.

"He was not only teaching Amjad's children, he was teaching my grandchildren as well.

"Three years ago my grandchildren would have been six and eight. The only things they would have been able to learn at that age would be the basic alphabet. They wouldn't even understand terrorism.

"We made a policy about six years ago not to allow anybody into our community who stands for inter-community hatred and we have no association or affiliation with any groups around the country.

"I was shocked and saddened when I heard our mosque had been mentioned because it will give people a false impression."

Mr Khan has known Mr Farooq since he arrived in England from Pakistan in 1973. And he says his removal from the firearms unit was grossly unfair.

"I was Amjad's teacher when he first came to England," explained Mr Khan. "He is a very quiet chap and keeps himself to himself. I think he is a victim because there is no truth in what has been said.

"He was a member of our committee. He loves his job and he always told me he was proud to be a police officer so he will be very disheartened now."

Father-of-five Mr Farooq, who recently lived at Westmorland Road, was a firearms specialist working for Wiltshire Police when he was transferred to the DPG. All officers within the DPG are required to undergo security vetting including a counter-terrorism check.

Mr Farooq was told he would not be transferred until he had received full clearance.

On December 16 2003, he was told by a detective chief superintendent from Special Branch that he had failed his CTC. By then, Mr Farooq had been working for the DPG for six weeks.

Mr Farooq was transferred to Hammersmith and Fulham constabulary. Mr Farooq, like Mr Khan, strongly denies any such links or inappropriate behaviour. He declined to comment about the case.