Law lords are undermining 'war on terror', says Clarke

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Indy Politics

Charles Clarke, the former Home Secretary, has launched a blistering attack on Britain's most senior judges, warning that they are undermining the "war on terror".

He accused them of being "utterly unaware" of the implications of their rulings for national security and said it was "disgraceful" that law lords were not prepared to discuss the principle of new laws with the Home Secretary. He attacked the "legal and parliamentary circus" that left anti-terror laws in doubt more than five years after the 9/11 attacks.

Mr Clarke said: "I maintain that this is a ludicrous way of proceeding which dangerously undermines confidence in every aspect of the police and criminal justice system at a time when the public first and foremost seeks protection against terrorist threats."

He said that the claims by law lords that they cannot discuss the principle of legislation without undermining their impartiality "fuels the dangerously confused and ill-informed debate" about the Human Rights Act. Mr Clarke warned that he could see the public withdrawing support for the European Convention on Human Rights.

Mr Clarke made his forthright comments during an evidence session before the Lords Constitution Committee. He said that, as Home Secretary, he never publicly criticised individual judgments, but criticised his successor John Reid for breaking that rule.

However, Mr Clarke attacked the decision of the Court of Appeal to block the deportation of Afghan hijackers who took over a passenger plane, saying it amounted to a "tacit invitation to terrorist hijackers".

He also cited the case of anti-terrorist control orders which were overturned by the Appeal Court without offering advice about how to make the orders comply with human rights law.