We will not be swayed, says judge

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The Independent Online

In his first press conference since his appointment as the country's senior judge, Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers said the bombings on 7 July did not mean judges would "see anything differently" in the exercise of their legal duty to protect the rights of anybody at risk of being sent to a state where security services torture suspects. He was responding to questions about Tony Blair's declaration that the "rules of the game" are changing. Other ministers have also suggested that new judicial guidance is needed, balancing the interest of national security against an individual's human rights.

Lord Phillips said judges would not be browbeaten into interpreting legislation in favour of ministers. "Judges won't see anything differently," he said. "The task of the judge when considering whether an order for deportation has been properly made is one that has been constrained by statute in particular the Human Rights Act which requires judges to have regard to decisions of the Strasbourg court."

The Government intends to rely on diplomatic assurances from countries with records of using torture in the past to overcome legal hurdles blocking deportations to those countries. Ministers have already signed a memorandum of understanding with Jordan where the Government intends to send Abu Qatada, a Jordanian-born terror suspect.