» Monday, February 21, 2005

Anti Terror Law

Asked why the Leader of the House was being very nice to the Liberal Democrats and nasty to the Conservatives about the terror law and whether it was because the Government was prepared to compromise about the judicial review the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman (PMOS) said that he could not get involved in party political matters. The situation remained as Charles Clarke had set out on Friday. There would be judicial involvement in this process but the important thing was to keep the ability to act quickly and flexibly and that we were consistent in the view that the use of intercept evidence just was not possible. There had been half a dozen reviews on whether intercept evidence should be used in court, but each time the conclusion was that this was just not possible without compromising sources. Asked why there were only two days for the debate given that there was a lot of concern in the chamber that only two days were being given over and the concern about a guillotine debate the PMOS said that it was a matter for business managers and the relevant department to consider. However, it was important that we recognised that because of the House of Lords ruling we needed to move quickly. We also recognised that this was a serious matter, but it was one that we could not keep deliberating on. We actually had to make decisions on it. The PMOS reminded journalists of the phrase Charles Clarke had used on Friday "the appropriate level of judicial involvement"; this reflected what we had originally set out. Asked to clarify that phrase the PMOS said people should wait for the Home Secretary’s statement tomorrow.

Asked if the Home Secretary would be making any concessions to David Davis this evening the PMOS said people should let the discussions take place but the important thing to remember was the substance of the issue and that substance was we needed to have a range of measures to deal with people who it was believed posed a genuine threat to national security. We recognised that some people judged these to be extreme measures but in the case of relatively few people we did need extreme measures to deal with extreme circumstances.

Briefing took place at 15:45 | Search for related news

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