» Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Anti Terrorism Bill

Asked if there was now a slight element of consensus creeping back into the Prime Minster’s language over the Anti-Terror Bill, the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman (PMOS) said that the Prime Minister had always wanted a consensus if possible. The key was "if possible". He still believed as he had said explicitly that the case made by the police for 90 days was one that nobody had answered. He was strengthened in that view by Lord Carlile who has said that he was "satisfied beyond doubt that there were situations where significant conspiracies to commit terrorist acts had gone unprosecuted as a result of the time limitations placed on the controlling authorities following arrest". Also that as a maximum 3 months was "probably a practical and sensible option". The Prime Minister’s view was now strengthened because not only the police, through the Met and ACPO, but also now by the independent reviewer saying that 3 months, in a few cases, was the right option.

Put to him that Lord Carlile had also said that that element of the law was vulnerable to a human rights challenge, the PMOS said that this was not his interpretation of what he had said on human rights. In terms of the Bill, like all Bills it would be human rights proofed. Put to him again that Lord Carlile had said he was not satisfied that it would be proofed from a challenge on human rights, the PMOS said that what he had said was that there were safeguards that he would like to see introduced. This was entirely what a parliamentary debate was about. However all Bills were proofed for the Human Rights Act. This happened as part of the normal process of drawing up a Bill.

Put to him that Lord Carlile had said there was a need to make the proposals human rights compatible, the PMOS said that in terms of the automatic process of drawing up any Bill, as it said on the front cover, it was compatible with human rights. That would happen with this Bill also. Drawing the Bill up appropriately was a matter for the lawyers at the Home Office and not one for him to comment on further.

Asked if the Prime Minister had any meetings planned with opposition leaders or were there ministerial level meetings planned to discuss this, the PMOS said that he was not aware of any plans to or any requests for such meetings. It was up to others to make the case and if they wanted meetings then that was something that could be considered.

Asked if the proposal for 90 days was backed by both the police and security services why we had only heard from the police, the PMOS said that a very relevant procedural matter to consider was that it was the police who questioned suspects. Therefore it was the police who were the relevant authority in this instance and they had made their position unequivocally clear. All sides, including the police and security services were represented at the relevant meeting where the proposals were put forward for consideration. We did not go into the details of who put what proposals forward. We never did.

Asked if the Prime Minister thought it was a good idea to change the law to allow interviewing of some suspects who had already been charged, the PMOS said that again these would be proposals that would be put forward and subsequently he had no doubt they would be debated in the House.

Asked what was the point of the Foreign Office document published this morning, the PMOS said that it was to show the comparisons with other countries. We were not alone in facing the threat of terrorism and therefore it was useful for people to judge what happened in other countries. Put to him that we were alone in wanting to hold people for 3 months, the PMOS said that other countries, as the FCO document showed, often held them for much longer in their systems. However in this country it was the judgement of the police, as set out in their paper which hopefully everyone had read as it was set out in a very detailed way, that 3 months was the right period.

Put to the PMOS that when asked what he would say to someone who had been held for 3 months then released Paul Goggins had said that there would be no need to apologise or compensate because the person in question would have been held in accordance with the law, would this not leave a stain on that persons character, the PMOS said that as the Bill set out there would be a weekly review process carried out by the judiciary. Therefore with this judicial oversight it was not as if people would be held on a whim. It would be part of a very tightly scrutinised process.

Asked for a clarification following the Prime Minister and Home Secretary’s explicit comments that this was not internment, the PMOS said that it was for a maximum of 3 months. It would only be in a few exceptional cases and it would be open to judicial oversight on a weekly basis. Internment had not met any of these criteria.

Asked if the Prime Minister was still open to argument, the PMOS said the Prime Minister’s position was that he had not yet seen an argument that caused him to question the compelling argument of the police. Asked if he was open to Lord Carlile’s argument for better judicial scrutiny, the PMOS said that these would be matters that would be debated on the floor of the House. But what people should not miss, however, was that Lord Carlile had said that in the few exceptional cases where it would apply 3 months was justified. He also believed that it was right that the offence of glorification of terrorism was a proportionate response to the real and present danger we faced and people should not lose sight of that. Put to him that Lord Carlile had said he would be much happier if there was an investigating judge, the PMOS said no doubt we would make a considered response to that and other points at some stage.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Search for related news

No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Post a public comment

(You must give an email address, but it will not be displayed to the public.)
(You may give your website, and it will be displayed to the public.)


This is not a way of contacting the Prime Minister. If you would like to contact the Prime Minister, go to the 10 Downing Street official site.

Privacy note: Shortly after posting, your name and comment will be displayed on the site. This means that people searching for your name on the Internet will be able to find and read your comment.

Downing Street Says...

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


October 2005
Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
« Sep   Nov »

Supported by


Disruptive Proactivity

Recent Briefings



Syndicate (RSS/XML)



Contact Sam Smith.

This site is powered by WordPress. Theme by Jag Singh