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
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
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

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an excellent, large partially ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Ashdown Group: Lead Web Developer (ASP.NET, C#) - City of London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Lead Web Develo...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee