» Wednesday, March 9, 2005

Anti-Terror Legislation

Asked how the Prime Minister had made the oft repeated judgement at Prime Minister's Questions over the last few weeks that the threat from Islamic fundamentalist terrorists was a lot worse that any threat Britain had faced before and how he balanced that theoretical worst case scenario from Al Qaeda against the actual carnage of attacks carried out by IRA the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) said it was a fair question and to address the point for the sake of clarity even though it was not implied the Prime Minister had not in any way underestimated either the carnage caused by the IRA, the threat from the IRA or the very real pain and suffering that the IRA had caused to actual victims and to their relatives. For the record he was in no way trying to downplay the nature and extent of the damage done by IRA terrorism in the past, or the very real threat it had posed to the stability of this country. What he was however trying to convey was that this was a different kind of terrorism. The IRA as completely unjustified and wrong as its terrorist activities were had not set out with the specific premise of causing as many deaths as possible. Al Qaeda on the other hand, when it attacked America, actually wanted to cause many more deaths than it had actually caused and god knows it had caused more than enough deaths. Equally in Madrid the same was true. It killed hundreds of people in Madrid but it was aiming to kill thousands. Therefore what the Prime Minister was trying to convey, based on information received from the police and security services, was the belief and the knowledge that what Al Qaeda was actually trying to cause was death and destruction on a scale we had not seen before. God forbid they ever will, but that was the nature of the threat, so as an argument this was an explanation of why the scale of this threat was so different from the one faced in the past.

Briefing took place at 15:45 | Read whole briefing | Comments (2)

Attorney General’s Legal Advice

Asked why the Attorney General's legal advice and the full supplementary papers had not been circulated to cabinet two days before the 17 March Cabinet meeting the PMOS said that as he had explained this morning and as the Prime Minister explained at PMQs, the Attorney General was himself present at the Cabinet meeting and he gave an oral presentation of his view and answered questions on that view. This was the right way to proceed in terms of Ministerial Code and an oral presentation did not need to be circulated to colleagues in advance. It was only cabinet papers that had to be accompanied by the full text.

Briefing took place at 15:45 | Read whole briefing | Comment (1)

Anti Terror Legislation

Asked to clarify the timescale under which the Home Secretary envisaged the Belmarsh people being released if the Bill was not passed, the Prime Minister's Official Spokesman (PMOS) said that as he had said all week, he was not going to get involved in individual cases. The point that the Home Secretary was making this morning during his interview was that if Part Four was simply renewed, as suggested, then it would be open to challenge by the courts. Therefore the decision for release would be one for the courts, and not one that would be taken by the Home Secretary with regards to national security, and that was the key point. The PMOS said that in terms of what happened this week, that depended on the legislation and its progress.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Read whole briefing | Comment (1)

Legality of War

Asked if the Government had any response to the charge that there was a "clear breach" of the Ministerial Code under Section Two that a full explanation of any legal advice should be attached to a written answer given to a Cabinet Minister, the PMOS said that there was a misunderstanding about what actually happened. The Attorney General had briefed his Cabinet colleagues orally, and answered questions orally, and there was not a written memorandum sent round. Therefore the Ministerial Code did not apply in the way that was being suggested.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (5)


Put to him that the Foreign Secretary "seemed to have said" that the Government was going to rethink the cannabis laws, the PMOS said the Foreign Office had made clear that what Jack Straw had meant was this kind of legislation was always under review, as we had said at the time.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Read whole briefing | Comments (0)

Downing Street Says...

The unofficial site which lets you comment on the UK Prime Minister's official briefings. About us...


March 2005
Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
« Feb   Apr »

Supported by


Disruptive Proactivity

Recent Briefings



Syndicate (RSS/XML)



Contact Sam Smith.

This site is powered by WordPress. Theme by Jag Singh