Tony Blair has given "101 per cent" backing to the police raid on a house in east London in which a man was shot. The Prime Minister insisted that police had to act if they had "reasonable" intelligence that a terrorist attack was in prospect. He denied that the raid might provoke a Muslim backlash, saying that Muslims understood fully the need to combat terrorism.
In a webcast interview posted on the No 10 website, Mr Blair said: "I support the police 101 per cent - and the security services. I think if they have a reasonable piece of intelligence they believe they have got to investigate - take action on - they should. You can only imagine if they fail to take action and something terrible happened what outcry would be then, so they are in an impossible situation."
The Prime Minister also insisted that combating crime will have to take precedence over civil liberties. He said: "There is an ugly side to today's crime that is different from when we were growing up.
"Organised crime is far more vicious. The issue of drugs in crime makes for a sense of lawlessness that is far more profound than before and you have got a general disrespect on the part of certain groups of people. I am quite sure you cannot solve some of these law and order problems unless you are prepared quite profoundly to change and rebalance the system of criminal justice so that you have more summary justice, more summary powers, more ability for quick and effective action to be taken, even if it will cross the line that most people normally think of as there in terms of civil liberties."
Police are expected to apply today for more time to question Mohammed Abdul Kahar and his brother Abul Koyair, who were arrested in the dawn raid in Forest Gate. Mr Kahar was shot in the shoulder shortly after police broke in.