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The Coalition must make up its mind about cutting detention without trial to 14 days

Clegg Deputy PM Over the weekend, a senior Tory ran into Nick Clegg. "What do the Conservatives really think about 14 days?" the Deputy Prime Minister asked, with just a touch of anxiety.  The Coalition Agreement doesn't seem to pronounce on the issue. There's nothing in its Civil Liberties or National Security sections about it.

Clegg was enquiring because a decision will apparently be taken very soon.  During the last Parliament, Dominic Grieve, when Shadow Home Secretary, said here that 28 days was "much longer" than it needed to be, and pointed out when Shadow Justice Secretary (here) that since 2006 no terror suspect has been held for longer than 14 days.

In 2006, five of my former constituents were held in relation to the liquid explosives airline plot.  Three were charged and convicted.  Two were released without charge.  At least one of the latter was held for 28 days. It emerged that they weren't suspected of being integral to the plot. In short, the police had enough evidence to charge the serious suspects within 14 days.

I'm all for a tough security policy.  But the case for 28 days is unproven, like the case for 42 days and, let's remember, 90 days - both pushed by the Blair/Brown Government.  The Party's view in opposition was that moving towards 14 days wouldn't compromise security, and that intercept evidence should be made available in court.

Sayeeda Warsi recently once again drew attention to the lack of suspects held for 28 days here (£).  I recommend Andrew Gilligan's recent Spectator piece, in which he advocated what he called a bargain with Muslim Middle England.  Too often, innocent people are stopped and searched while extremists are feted and - sometimes - even funded.

Paul Goodman


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