Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Chinese whispers

It seems that the Tories may have given the wrong impression the other day, as Edland reports.
"We already have the longest pre-charge detention period of any comparable liberal democracy in the world. Yet the Government have indicated that they wish to extend it even further, beyond 28 days, to some undefined new figure, perhaps 42 days. However, the Home Secretary admits that there has not been one case where the police have needed longer than 28 days to question a suspect pre-charge. The evidential basis for extension is hypothetical at best.

"In the absence of compelling evidence, we will oppose any extension. Conservatives believe that the police and security services should be given the power to question terrorist suspects after they have been charged. We have also been consistently calling for the use of intercept evidence to be admissible in court. It works in many other countries and it can work here. Such measures would greatly enhance our ability to successfully prosecute suspected terrorists.

"The British people have fought hard throughout history for the civil liberties we enjoy today. Conservatives will fight hard to protect them."

Many thanks to Greg Hands MP and his assistant for clearing this up.

I am happy to report that the Tories may actually have a spine, after all...

5 comments:

Bishop Hill said...

Or do you think the reaction just scared them?

Newmania said...

I never doubted it ....(phew)

Nosemonkey said...

Although it's certainly an improvement on the government's position, is anyone else a tad worried about the whole "continue to question them after they've been charged" thing? Considering how long these things can take to come to trial, couldn't that just give the government/police a handy way to indefinitely extend the detention by chucking random charges at someone?

Any lawyers about who can clear that up for me?

(And yes, yes I am fully aware of the need to get as much information out of suspected terrorists as possible, and that preventing the security services from questioning them to protect their legal rights could lead to untold death and destruction. I'm more intrigued by the legal - and moral - distinctions between being indefinitely held on suspicion and being indefinitely held after charges have been brought, when in both circumstances the police are able to continue to question you. What's to stop charges being brought and then the trial delayed for years with suspects held in a British Guantanamo if there's no incentive for the security services to speed up the process by putting a cap on their interrogation time?)

Ed said...

I'm with you nosemonkey. Not sure sure under what basis, but I'm sure even terror suspects have a "right" to a speedy trial - or they should do.

Mark Wadsworth said...

Nosemonkey - Simon Clarke explained the problems with allowing questioning after charge in the comments here. I personally don't think that any of these are insurmountable, but there you go ...