Reid to change asylum law after court defeat on Afghan hijackers

Click to follow
The Independent Online

John Reid suffered his second court reverse in three days yesterday after he was defeated over the fate of nine Afghans who hijacked a flight to Britain.

The Home Secretary vowed to change the law after the Court of Appeal ruled he was wrong to limit their freedoms although they have been granted permission to stay in Britain.

The same court ruled this week that control orders imposed on terrorist suspects breached their human rights. Mr Reid had appealed against a previous ruling that granted the Afghans discretionary leave to stay in the UK. He did not challenge their right to be in the country, but he wanted to impose restrictions on them, requiring them to report to police and barring them from taking jobs.

But the court threw out his case, saying the Government had failed to get the necessary powers to do so from Parliament. Lord Justice Brooke said: "There has been ample time for the Home Secretary to obtain appropriate parliamentary authority, if he wished to be clothed with the powers he gave to himself without parliamentary sanction."

Mr Reid said: "The court has ruled it is not open to me to deny leave to enter the United Kingdom to the Afghan hijackers, or people like them, whose presence we regard as undesirable. I continue to believe those whose actions have undermined any legitimate claim to asylum should not be granted leave to remain in the UK. I therefore intend to legislate at the earliest opportunity to take powers to deny people in this position leave to remain."

The legislation would cover the nine men as the Government will attempt to make it retrospective.

The nine men hijacked a Boeing 727 in Afghanistan in February 2000 and forced the crew to fly to Stansted. Although they were refused asylum, a panel of adjudicators ruled in 2004 that they could not be sent back to Afghanistan because their lives would be endangered.

In December 2001 all nine were convicted of hijacking, false imprisonment, possessing firearms with intent to cause fear of violence and possessing explosives. In June 2003 their convictions were quashed by the Court of Appeal, which found they had been acting under duress.