DPP backs return of Guantanamo Britons

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The Director of Public Prosecutions has lent his support to calls for the US to return the British terror suspects it is holding at Guantanamo Bay for trial before a judge and jury.

Sir David Calvert-Smith QC said that an argument could be made to try the men in this country. "If there is evidence which could go before an English court then there is clearly an argument to say: well, why don't we do the business ourselves," he said.

Sir David, who heads the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in England and Wales, said even if the men were convicted under the American military tribunal system, there should be a right of appeal to a court in this country rather than a single right of petition to the American government.

Sir David also questioned, in an interview with The Sunday Times, the suitability of the proposed military-style courts as a proper forum for prosecuting the British suspects.

If the cases were properly referred to the CPS, then he was ready to prosecute them, he added. The Pentagon's top lawyer will fly to London this week to try to reach agreement with ministers over the military trial of two of the nine British terrorist suspects.

William Haynes, the US Defence Department's general counsel, will lead a delegation of US lawyers to meet Lord Goldsmith QC, the Attorney General, who is leading the negotiations for the Government.

One bone of contention will be the appeal process. Lord Goldsmith, who has ministerial responsibility for the CPS, is understood to be opposed to US plans for Paul Wolfowitz, the US Deputy Secretary of Defence, to hear any appeal. He believes that this does not conform to international standards of a fair trial.

Lord Goldsmith has travelled to Washington twice to try to win assurances of a fair trial for the two Britons, Feroz Abbasi and Moazzam Begg, the only two of nine British citizens being held in the camp to be singled out for military trial. He was promised that they will not face the death penalty, can be represented by a US civilian lawyer of their own choice and hold discussions with their legal advisers in private.