» Wednesday, November 7, 2007


Asked if the Prime Minister had any view on how long terrorists should be held without charge, the PMS replied that the Prime Minister’s view was the Government’s view, which was set out very clearly in July. Based on the trends that had been emerging in terms of the time needed to collate all of the relevant information, the Government believed that there was a case for going beyond 28 days in future. The document that the Home Office published on the 25th July 2007, set out a number of options and one of those options was to legislate to extend the current limit beyond 28 days. That was described as the Government’s preferred option. The Prime Minister in his statement to the House on the 25th July, said that the Government was proposing for consultation this option, which would be an extension of the current limit of up to 28 days more, or a lesser period.

Put by the BBC that Jacqui Smith was not aware of that this morning, the PMS said that Jacqui Smith did know that, but he had been given more of an opportunity to answer the question by his BBC questioner than Jacqui Smith had by hers that morning. The Government’s position on the subject had not changed and it was as set out in the Home Office consultation document and the Prime Minister’s statement on the 25th July.

Put that Jacqui Smith had said that she’d like to see post-charge questioning for offences other than terrorism and if that was the Government’s position, what sort of offences were being considered, the PMS said that he did not think Jacqui Smith was saying anything new. Put that Jacqui Smith mentioned the figure of 58 days that morning, the PMS made clear that 58 days was a different proposal that had been put forward by Liberty and others. Jacqui Smith had been saying that there were a number of maximum dates in the public domain; one was up to 56 days, which was the Government’s preferred option. The alternative was the Liberty proposal where as he understood it, the Government could declare a state of emergency and it could last for 30 days beyond the 28 days, the current extension period, which was how the figure of 58 days would be reached.

Put that people were assured that 90 days were needed to question people and why was it now a matter of 56 days, the PMS replied that the Government was trying to find a consensual position on the subject. Clearly there was a discussion that people wanted to have, as to what the right number might be. The Government had said that there should be a maximum limit and Jacqui Smith had reiterated that this morning. In the Government’s view, there was a case for going beyond 28 days, but as was said in July, the Government was consulting on a proposal that would take the maximum limit up to 56 days.

Put that all sides were talking about how the process had to be based on evidence and would any be forthcoming, the PMS said that he assumed people had read the Home Office consultation document, published in July, which had set out the increasing trends on the amount of information that was necessary to process in a number of terror cases in recent times. Put that none of the evidence specifically targeted an extra 28 days, the PMS said that it had set out and explained the complexity of some of the recent cases. The PMS offered to go through the facts and figures, but added that it was set out quite clearly in the document.

Asked if the police had asked for post-charge questioning to be extended to other non-terrorist crimes, the PMS said that he did not know the answer to that and that people should check with the Home Office.

original source.

Briefing took place at 16:45 | Search for related news

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