Terror law watchdog wins battle with Government to be given new discretionary powers

Additional responsibilities include being able to look into the way the register of convicted terrorists is maintained

The terror law watchdog, David Anderson QC, has won a battle with the Government over expanding his remit.

As the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, Mr Anderson felt stifled in that he could examine the impact and workings of only four security laws. At present, these reviews have to be conducted on an inflexible annual basis.

The role also faced being either replaced or undermined by the establishment of a Privacy and Civil Liberties Board, a move that one insider said was strongly championed by the Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg.

But amendments to the Counter-terrorism and Security Bill tabled by the Home Office minister Lord Bates this weekend will let the reviewer examine up to seven anti-terror laws. Additional responsibilities include being able to look into the way the register of convicted terrorists is maintained, while there is also scope for ad hoc investigations of specific issues.

Mr Anderson has been granted the discretion to decide when and why he needs to review all but one of the relevant pieces of legislation. The Government has also clarified that the new board is controlled and directed by the reviewer.

This is a weaker version of the powerful board envisaged by Mr Clegg, who, the insider said, considered it part of his “legacy” of five years in office.

Mr Anderson told The Independent on Sunday: “I broadly welcome these proposals, which will give the independent reviewer the opportunity to increase the range and effectiveness of independent reviews.”

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