Britain's anti-terrorism watchdog has raised fresh concerns about the indefinite detention of suspects, despite warning that the country faces a "real and present danger" of new suicide attacks.
Lord Carlile of Berriew QC said secret evidence he had seen "is sufficiently alarming for me to re-emphasise, as I have in other reports, the real and present danger of shocking terrorism acts involving suicide bombers. Further suicide bombings in the UK must be expected and the targets are unpredictable."
He said he had "strong views" about the decision to detain nine men while ministers seek guarantees that they will not be tortured if they are deported to their home countries.
However, he backed the use of control orders, despite warning that they were on the "cusp" of amounting to house arrest. The orders limit suspects' freedom to travel, meet people and use telephones or the internet. They were passed last year after an angry all-night stand-off between MPs and Peers.
But yesterday Lord Carlile, the Liberal Democrat peer charged with overseeing the Act, said the orders were "a justifiable and proportional safety valve for the proper protection of civil society", if used as a last resort.
He urged police to continue their investigations into the activities of suspects, which he said could produce evidence to produce convictions.
He said: "Information about international contacts, financial support for insurgents in Iraq, and the use of guarded language to refer to potential terrorism targets might be progressed to evidence of significant terrorism crime."
But Lord Carlile warned that he had "real concern" about the holding of nine former Belmarsh detainees, including the Muslim preacher Abu Qatada, while anti-torture memoranda of understanding are worked out with their home countries. Four of the men have been granted bail.
Lord Carlile said: "Given that there is the control order system in existence, it would be preferable for that system to be used against the persons concerned until suitable memoranda have been achieved."
However, he said criticism of the memoranda of understanding was often "naïve and simplistic".
Yesterday Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, said he would ask MPs to renew the Terrorism Act for another year. But he pledged to consolidate all anti-terror legislation in a new Bill and said he might "prune" the law of unnecessary anti-terror measures.
David Davis, the shadow Home Secretary, said: "This is not just technical. Much of the anti-terrorist legislation was put together in haste and has proved either unusable or unnecessary."
Alistair Carmichael, the Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, warned: "The holding of suspects under conditions amounting to indefinite house arrest has no place in our justice system.
"This is yet another example of the Government's failure to uphold basic standards of justice in the face of the terrorism."Reuse content