Labour facing defeat over 42 day pre-charge detention

The government is facing defeat over its legislation to hold terror suspects for up to 42 days without charge, which is to be published today without many of the safeguards demanded by opponents.

Government whips are believed to have warned ministers that if a Commons vote were held now on pre-charge detention it would be “touch and go” and the home secretary, Jacqui Smith, must go out and make the case if she is to win over sceptical Labour backbenchers.

Smith, a former chief whip whose weekend media push to sell the 42 days proposal was undermined by her remarks about fear of walking the streets at night, is undertaking an intensive programme of one-to-one meetings with backbenchers in an attempt to save the plan, which the government argues is necessary to give police enough time to gather evidence of complex plots.

The detailed legislation is expected to be tougher than originally trailed, with no legal definition of the seriousness of the alleged offence that could trigger an exceptional period of detention beyond the current 28 days without charge. Critics fear that even the recent case of the “lyrical terrorist”, who wrote inflammatory poetry about martyrdom, could be caught by these wider criteria.

The government was dealt a fresh blow over its plans last night by the Commission for Equalities and Human Rights, which described the proposal as disproportionate, unjustified and in breach of human rights law. In a strongly worded letter to the home secretary its chair, Trevor Phillips, said the CEHR, which has powers to seek judicial review, is seeking legal remedies should the counter-terror bill reach the statute book. The commission says the proposal would have a disproportionate impact on Muslims, and suggests that people who are unlawfully detained for the 42 days and lose their livelihoods, homes or families in the process should be entitled to compensation.


34 votes needed to defeat 42 day detention bill
Director of public prosecutions rejects increasing detention without charge to 42 days
Not a Day More


3 Responses to “Labour facing defeat over 42 day pre-charge detention”

  1. 1 dawood January 24, 2008 at 8:53 am

    I hope they get royally pwned on this – it is a disastrous and fugly piece of legislation.

  1. 1 Time for Muslim organisations to form cross-political alliances « pixelisation Trackback on February 25, 2008 at 8:37 pm
  2. 2 Opposition to 42 day detention without charge grows « pixelisation Trackback on March 1, 2008 at 6:03 pm

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