Goldsmith challenges Blair over terror laws

Attorney General warns ministers. 90-day lock-up plan 'not justified'

The Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, is believed to have told the Home Secretary he is not persuaded it would be right to detain terror suspects for 90 days. The warning comes as members of the Cabinet prepare to meet police tomorrow to discuss the Government's terror Bill which is published this week.

Lord Goldsmith, who is a member of the Cabinet, has recently written to Charles Clarke giving his views on the Government's new anti-terror legislation ahead of the meeting. His failure to give the stamp of approval to the proposed terror law threatens to embarrass the Government and could throw its plans to crack down on terrorism into disarray. Lord Goldsmith's doubts are understood to be shared by several other members of the Cabinet as well as by senior figures in the Home Office.

In his note to Mr Clarke, the Attorney General is believed to have said that, although extending detention beyond 14 days would be acceptable, he is not convinced that keeping suspects incarcerated for as long as 90 days would be justified.

"He has written as a member of the Cabinet in response to the terrorism Bill," a senior government source said. "He is not persuaded that it is justifiable to hold them for three months. That doesn't mean he might not be persuaded in future."

Mark Oaten, the Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, has written to Mr Clarke asking him to publish all Lord Goldsmith's papers on the terror proposals. He has made it clear that the Liberal Democrats will, like the Tories, oppose plans to incarcerate suspects for as long as 90 days.

Tony Blair is likely to confront criticism head on when he holds a press conference this week and meets Labour MPs. Tony Blair's own watchdog on terror laws has warned that proposals to hold suspects for up to three months may be unworkable, The Independent on Sunday has learnt. An official report sent to the Home Secretary has raised doubts about the plans.

The Government's official reviewer of terrorism law, Lord Carlile of Berriew, is believed to have warned there could be problems with holding suspects for up to three months. The report, due to be published this week, is expected to criticise the proposal to extend detention of terrorist suspects from 14 days to three months and recommend a fresh look at a Continental system which offers suspects greater judicial protection.

Lord Carlile, a senior QC and criminal barrister who was appointed the statutory reviewer of terrorism legislation in 2001, refused to comment on the contents of his report. But, speaking to the IoS, he reiterated the need for anti-terror laws to be compatible with human rights legislation.

"One of the things is that you have to balance the civil liberties of people who are accused, sometimes wrongly, of being involved in terrorism, against the civil liberties of the vast majority of the public who do not want to be blown up on the Tube," he said. "There are two issues. One is the time limits; the second is ensuring that evidence is gathered in a proper way. And you have to ensure that there is an appropriate system of law to protect the subject."

His report is expected to refer to a 2003 paper on terror by Lord Newton. This highlighted a French system employing a security-cleared judge and offered stronger legal safeguards.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office Administrator

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion, an experienced and hig...

SThree: Graduate Recruitment Resourcer

£20000 per annum + commission: SThree: Sthree have an exciting opportunity for...

Recruitment Genius: Plumbing & Heating / Bathroom Trade Counter Sales

£22000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This well established London ba...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin (based in London)

£20000 - £25000 per annum + commission: SThree: Real Staffing's Pharmaceutical...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat