Judge quashes anti-terror control orders on six men

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A senior judge today quashed control orders made against six men under the Government's anti-terrorist legislation.

Mr Justice Sullivan, sitting at the High Court in London, said the orders were "incompatible" with Article 5 of the European Convention on Human rights which prevents indefinite detention without trial.

He ruled: "It follows that the (Home Secretary) had no power to make the orders and they must therefore all be quashed."

The six men, believed to be one British citizen and five Iraqis, had been placed under severe restrictions of liberty in line with the control orders.

Today's decision means the Government has now suffered a High Court "double whammy" in its attempts to legislate to fight terror.

In April the same judge also found the 2005 Prevention of Terrorism Act - under which control orders are made - "incompatible" with the European Convention on Human Rights because "controlees" had not received a fair hearing.

Both cases are now expected to come before the Court of Appeal on Monday next week.

Control orders can be imposed on people suspected of involvement with terrorism without a court trial.

Controlees can be restricted to their homes, have their associations with other people restricted, be forced to hand in their passports and be forced to give law enforcement officers unrestricted access to their homes.

The orders can be imposed for up to 12 months and can be renewed indefinitely at the request of the Home Secretary.

In April, Mr Justice Sullivan overturned the first order to be made.

It involved a British citizen, who can only be referred to as "S".

It was imposed because the Government suspected the man intended to travel to Iraq to fight United States and British forces.

Mr Justice Sullivan said that it "would be an understatement" to say that the orders do not give controlees a right to a fair hearing under the European Convention on Human Rights.

Today's cases involved Article 5 of the European convention, which prevents indefinite detention without trial - but the Government can derogate from it.

But the Government has not derogated from Article 5 in cases where controlees - such as the six in today's legal challenge - are allowed some time out of the accommodation in which they are required to live.

But today the judge ruled that even in these circumstances there had been a deprivation of liberty which was incompatible with human rights law.

If today's High Court decision stands, human rights lawyers say the Government's whole system of control orders will have to go back to the drawing board.