Backlash will scupper anti-terrorism Bill in the Lords, say critics

Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, was warned that the heavily-criticised proposal could be defeated in the House of Lords. To avert a bruising parliamentary battle, he also looks certain to retreat over the proposed detention of terror suspects without charge for up to three months.

Tony Blair made a passionate defence of the controversial package yesterday, dismissing accusations that it seriously undermined civil liberties. But Lord Morris, a former Attorney General under Mr Blair, predicted that judges and lawyers in the Lords would "examine it [the Bill] very carefully".

Lord Morris said of the proposed extension of the detention period from 14 to 90 days: "I think the police have to prove very carefully and to the satisfaction of legislators that this extension is needed."

Lord Ackner, a former law lord, added that the Government had gone too far in its plans for curbing freedom of speech. "I get the impression we are taking this too far, that there is a great risk that freedom of speech is going to be curtailed because of the breadth of some of the clauses," he said.

While there was a "prima facie case" for extending the length of detention under the existing terrorism laws, three months was too long, Lord Ackner said.

"With the ordinary custodial reduction it represents a six months' prison sentence. So this really raises the risk of producing a form of internment."

Lord Ackner said that if the proposal was to become law, then there must be a right of appeal to a circuit judge.

Ian Macdonald QC, a former special advocate cleared to hear secret service intelligence against foreign terror suspects, described proposals as crude and vague.

He said: "I'm not sure how you would square some of this with freedom of speech. If we don't enter a debate with some of these people [Muslim exremists], then how can we compete for their hearts and minds? What is needed is proper intelligence to defeat religious-inspired terrorism."

Kevin Martin, president of the Law Society, said he believed that the current law against incitement was already sufficiently broad.

He said: "In view of the already broad nature of incitement offences, we are unclear that a new offence of "glorification" would take the matter any further. We also think that it would be evidentially very complex."

Nor does the Law Society believe that the case is made out for extending detention from 14 days. Mr Martin said: "Powers to detain are already longer in terrorism cases. However, if there were to be any extension, it must be granted and reviewed by a High Court judge."

Mr Blair told Radio 4's Today programme: "Virtually every country in Europe, following terrorist acts, has been toughening up their legislation.

"And the fact that someone who comes into our country, and maybe seeks refuge here, the fact that we say if, when you are here, you want to stay here, play by the rules, play fair, don't start inciting people to go and kill other innocent people in Britain.

"I think that when people say this is an abrogation of our traditional civil liberties; I think it is possible to exaggerate that. I mean, as far as I know people have always accepted that with rights come responsibilities."

Within Downing Street there was irritation yesterday that a leaked early draft of a letter by Mr Clarke appeared to reveal his private reservations over the planned new detention period.

Following a report that he was to be replaced as Home Secretary, Mr Blair has assured him that his job is safe. But there are tensions between No 10 and the Home Office over the handling of the anti-terrorism legislation.

MPs were stunned when the Prime Minister chose 5 August, while Mr Clarke was on holiday, to announce fresh proposals to protect Britain from attack.

The Home Secretary has also been noticeably more emollient to judges than Mr Blair, although Whitehall officials insist suggestions that there is a division between them have been exaggerated. However, one civil liberties source insisted last night: "There's a turf war: it's going back and forth."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Angel Di Maria is shown the red card
Roger Federer after his win over Tomas Berdych
Life and Style
News in briefs: big pants in 'Bridget Jones's Diary'
fashionBig knickers are back
James Milner is set to sign for Liverpool this week despite rival interest from Arsenal
sportReds baulk at Benteke £32.5m release clause
The controversial Motor Neurone Disease Association poster, featuring sufferer Michael Smith, has drawn a series of angry complaints
newsThis one has been criticised for its 'threatening tone'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: European Sales Director - Aerospace Cable & Wire

£100000 - £125000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As a top tier supplier to the...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Project Manager

£17100 - £22900 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the North West's leading...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Technician

£20000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an intermediate help de...

Recruitment Genius: CNC Turner

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This long established manufactu...

Day In a Page

On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral