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UK Politics

Eric Pickles: Law 'couldn't have stopped Woolwich murder'


The Government will examine what powers it requires following the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby on the streets of London, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said today.

But Mr Pickles said he did not believe any measures in a mooted communications data bill, dubbed the "snooper's charter", would have prevented the death of the soldier in Woolwich.

Conservative MP Mr Pickles told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "What I am certain about is a free society is vulnerable to an unexplained, heavy violent attack, whether it was as our dear friends in Norway faced a couple of years ago a white supremacist or whether what we faced on the streets of Woolwich, a blasphemy and distortion of Islam.

"I know of nothing that would suggest that provisions that were in that bill would have made any difference in this case or would have saved the life of the young member of the armed forces.

"I think it's probably too soon to assess the powers we need but, once the investigation is through, both aspects of the security services and aspects of the policing of these two individuals will be thoroughly investigated and no doubt recommendations will come out of that."

Mr Pickles was asked earlier if Prime Minister David Cameron's response would have been the same if the attack had been a random killing rather than linked to extremist elements of Islam.

Mr Pickles said: "I think the Prime Minister would have been very heavily criticised if a British soldier had been murdered on the streets by two people with clearly, from their own mouths, a political message, and it's important we understood what was happening and try to make an assessment of whether this was just the beginning of a series of events that would escalate the violence and, pleasingly, that appears not to be the case.

"I think the Prime Minister acted wisely in coming back and I think he would have been very heavily criticised had he not done so."