French police have tried to cover up a blunder that enabled two Islamists to murder Fr Jacques Hamel, according to news reports.

Prosecutors have opened a criminal inquiry after allegations made by the investigative news site Médiapart. The site alleged that an intelligence officer with the Paris police had alerted superiors to the threat posed by Adel Kermiche, one of the two terrorists, just five days before the attack. The warning was ignored and it is alleged that the officer was ordered to change the date of the notes and even erase his browsing history to protect the careers of the superiors involved.

Kermiche had been discovered on the encrypted messaging site Telegram urging followers to “go into a church and take out everyone”. He said that with a knife one could “cut off two or three heads” and “cause carnage”.

A police report said the comments “clearly pointed towards a jihadist profile turned in an explicit manner towards the Islamic State organisation”.

The officer suggested that the General Directorate of Internal Security, the French equivalent of MI5, be told of the threat.

A spokesman for Paris police said that an agent had produced a note on Kermiche before the attack but that the note did not suggest that a terrorist attack was imminent.

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