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David Davis challenges Theresa May over her decision to extend 28-day detention

Picture 12 Is the Conservative-Lib Dem Coalition as civil libertarian as might have been expected?

Home Secretary Theresa May has announced this morning that she is extending for another six months the power to detain terrorist suspects without trial for 28 days.

Reuters reports that she has said in a written statement:

"The government has today laid an order to renew the existing 28-day maximum period of pre-charge detention for a time-limited period of six months... It is vital that we support the police and other agencies in their work to keep us safe from terrorism... At the same time... we are also committed to safeguarding the rights and liberties of the public... Both parties in the coalition are clear that the 28-day maximum period should be a temporary measure and one that we will be looking to reduce over time."

She said pre-charge detention would be included in a review of counter-terrorism legislation, which would report in the autumn.

Former shadow home secretary Davis Davis - who famously quit that post to fight a by-election on civil liberties issues - has been swift to challenge her decision:

"Whilst it is welcome that she is having this review of Labour’s heavy-handed legislation, and whilst it is at least welcome that this is a six month rather than one year review, it is wholly unnecessary to extend further. There have been no cases in the last four years where it has been necessary to go beyond 21 days. Even the Heathrow plot, where innocent people were held for 28 days, it has now been proven that those that were charged after this lengthy period could have been charged in less than 14 days.

“This extension is therefore unnecessary and regrettable. It is to be hoped that after the 6 months review we will see an end not just to this unnecessarily authoritarian law, but also to control orders and their regime of house arrest, internal exile, and secret courts, all of which are an anathema of British standards of justice.”

Jonathan Isaby


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