New laws 'have not made the UK safer'

The Government's controversial anti-terror laws have done nothing to make Britain a safer place, a former law lord said yesterday in the most damning critique yet of Labour's response to the 11 September 2001 and 7 July 2005 attacks.

Lord Lloyd of Berwick described as "sinister" the way the Government had rushed through legislation since 2001. He said the disproportionate response and the subsequent assault on the Human Rights Act had "grave implications for the constitution".

Speaking at a law and terrorism conference organised by the City law firm Clifford Chance, the former law lord said the Government had "started to go wrong" when it introduced emergency legislation in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

He said he was "extremely content" with legislation of 2000, which had been loosely based on Lord Lloyd's own report in 1995.

"It does seem to me that there's almost nothing, with perhaps one exception, which the subsequent legislation has improved the situation with regard to public safety or indeed any respect," said Lord Lloyd.

Under the 2001 Act suspects could be detained indefinitely by the Home Secretary. The Government said it could introduce detention without trial because there was a threat to the life of the nation.

Lord Lloyd said that was not the same as an emergency situation analogous to wartime. "A great disservice was done by talking about a 'war on terror'... It's more a figure of speech."