Ex-law lords say anti-terror proposals are 'intolerable'

Lord Steyn and Lord Lloyd of Berwick, who until recently sat as full-time judges in the Lords, say they are particularly concerned about powers to hold terror suspects for up to three months without charge.

Lord Steyn said such a long period of detention without trial could fall foul of the European Convention on Human Rights and Lord Lloyd said it amounted to internment.

The Government has now announced a dilution of its new anti-terrorist legislation to be published next week. Under the new proposals, people will be charged with glorifying terrorism only if it can be demonstrated they intended to encourage their audience to commit similar atrocities.

But Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, said he was standing firm on his contentious proposal to increase the time terrorist suspects can be interrogated from 14 days to three months. The move has been fiercely opposed by the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives and could be defeated in the House of Lords.

The law lords' comments were made to the BBC's Panorama programme, to be screened on Sunday, which also highlights an apparent difference of opinion between Tony Blair and Cherie Blair on striking a balance between protecting people against terrorism and infringing civil liberties. It quotes Cherie Blair, speaking as a human rights lawyer, on 26 July this year: "It is all too easy for us to respond to such terror in a way which undermines commitment to our most deeply held values and convictions and which cheapens our right to call ourselves a civilised nation."

Lord Steyn, in his Panorama interview recorded before the Government announced its partial climb-down, said: "We live in a country that Voltaire called 'the country of liberty': isn't that being endangered?"

Lord Lloyd, who presided over the inquiry into anti-terrorist legislation for the Conservative government in 1995-96, said of the new Bill: "It says that a person commits an offence if he glorifies, exalts, or celebrates an act of terrorism whether in the past or in the future. Now to me that is a very odd provision.

"I have never seen anything like it in an Act of Parliament. And I pity the poor judge who's going to have to explain those words to a jury. Glorify, there again glorify, exalt or celebrate.

"Presumably they all mean something different otherwise you wouldn't have three words instead of one. Somebody in the Home Office must have thought they mean something different. But how is a judge going to explain the difference between those three things ?

"The essence of criminal law is that it should be clear and it must be certain. And having an offence couched in this language will in practice be unenforceable."

On the detention proposal, Lord Lloyd said: "It begins to look ... a little like internment. And it would certainly be seen that way by some of the ethnic minorities. Fancy being kept for three months without being charged. Being questioned notionally and not being charged. I think that is intolerable. By, in a sense, stirring up the fear and then saying, 'Well this is what we're going to do about it by legislating here, there and everywhere', I think that's in a sense, irresponsible."

Mr Clarke also set out plans to close mosques suspected of fostering extremism. People responsible for such places could be prosecuted, and even jailed, if they fail to act against extremist teachings.

Life and Style
LifeReddit asked a simple question with infinite answers this week
Life and Style
Pepper, the 3ft 11in shiny box of circuits who can tell jokes and respond to human emotions
techDavid McNeill tests the mettle of one of the new generation of androids being developed in Tokyo
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the worldwide Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer debut
peopleMario Balotelli poses with 'shotgun' in controversial Instagram pic
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Arts and Entertainment
The successful ITV drama Broadchurch starring David Tenant and Olivia Coleman came to an end tonight
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice