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Legal doubt on 28 days detention

An influential parliamentary group claims there is not enough evidence to justify extending the time a terrorist suspect can be held from 14 to 28 days.

Last month Tony Blair suffered his first ever defeat when MPs threw out plans to allow police to hold suspects for up to 90 days without charge.

Instead MPs voted to extend the detention time from 14 to 28 days.

But the Joint Committee on Human Rights says this could still pose a potential legal problem for the government.

The committee, which is made up of MPs and peers, says the plan could lead to the “inadmissibility at trial of statements obtained following lengthy pre-charge detention”.

Good stuff. But what’s this press release from the Joint Committee’s chair?

Dismore Starts Terror Petition Campaign

Andrew Dismore, Labour Member of Parliament for Hendon, has started a petition campaign, in support of the Government’s proposals to combat terrorism.

Mr. Dismore and his helpers will be asking residents to sign the petition at his regular street stalls, and when calling on residents on the doorstep. Mr. Dismore will also invite those who have previously expressed support for the Government’s stand on terrorism to collect signatures, too.

Mr. Dismore said:

“In the course of debates in the House of Commons, the Government made a series of amendments which went some way to meeting a number of criticisms of the Bill and also improved it.

“However, the most important measure, that of the length of time the police can hold a suspect, was defeated by the Conservative and Liberal Democrat Parties, with the support of a small number of Government rebels. As the Bill now stands, the police may hold a suspect for up to 28 days, subject to seven day renewals by a judge.

“Personally, I believe this was a dangerous decision and I hope that those who voted against this part of the Bill do not come to regret it in the light of any future events.

“I believe the police made an extremely strong case, and I have no hesitation whatsoever in supporting the Government in its proposal for a maximum of 90 days.

“However, the Bill remains under determined attack by the unelected House of Lords, with a number of peers who wish to reduce the period of detention to the existing 14 days, to water down proposals in relation to the offence of indirectly inciting terrorism, and who wish to narrow the definition of terrorism, amongst many other amendments they will propose in an attempt to destroy the Bill.

“I believe it is vital that the Government stands firm and receives all the encouragement it can get to defend this vital measure from further dilution by the opposition parties in the House of Lords.”

Surely, as he feels so strongly about the issue, he should resign as chair of the committee on a matter of principle, regardless of the cut in pay it would lead to?

You can read his full report here.

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