Up to 20 militant imams in Britain, MPs told

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By Nigel Morris, Home Affairs Correspondent

As many as 20 militant imams with views similar to those of Abu Hamza al-Masri could still be preaching in Britain, MPs were told as the Government braced itself for a close vote today over anti-terror laws. Lord Carlile of Berriew, the terror watchdog, coupled his warning with criticism of ministers for allowing the credibility of MI5 to be harmed by the presentation of the case for war in Iraq.

MPs will vote this afternoon on plans to outlaw the "glorification" of terrorism. The Government's proposal only scraped through the Commons by one vote last year before being rejected by the House of Lords.

Ministers are determined to press ahead with the planned ban, pointing to recent provocative anti-Western demonstrations by Islamic extremists as justification for the measure. Lord Carlile, the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, told MPs yesterday that not enough had been done to check the credentials of foreign imams coming to Britain.

Labour whips are quietly confident they can win today's vote narrowly.