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Met chief 'overstepped the mark on terror bill'

The Liberal Democrat leader says Sir Ian should explain before a Commons select committee why he backed the proposals. But senior police officers are blaming the Government for dragging them into the growing row over tough new terror laws.

Last week, Tony Blair suffered the greatest defeat of his time in office when MPs rejected proposals for a maximum 90-day detention period without charge for terror suspects.

The measure had been strongly recommended by the Metropolitan Police and the Association of Chief Police Officers on the grounds it would enable officers to gather vital evidence against extremists.

Before the vote, chief constables were asked by Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, to lobby individual MPs in an effort to win backing for the controversial detention plans. However, it has emerged that top-ranking officers made vehement objections to the police being used to act as "political messengers" for the Government.

Publicly,police refused to comment on criticism that their close relationship with the Government threatens to compromise their authority. But one senior officer told The Independent on Sundayministers should not have put pressure on the police to help to influence the political process. "Ninety days was justifiable, but once the case had been put forward the party should have fought [the battle] on their own."

Mr Blair faces fresh humiliation this week when the Lords consider plans for a national identity card scheme. It is understood that at least 80 peers will demand the Government drops or makes substantial amendments to the Bill. Mr Kennedy's comments are in today's Politics Show on BBC1.