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Will Cameron curb the "judicial jihadists" so that the security services can hunt down the real jihadists?

By Tim Montgomerie

MyPledge Behind the News of the World's paywall is an article by David Cameron that pays handsome tribute to Britain's security services in the wake of the foiled cargo plane bombing. "We have some of the finest intelligence and counter-terrorism services in the world," he writes. He continues: "My position on this is clear: we will take whatever steps are necessary to keep the people of this country safe". And, just in case readers missed the message the first time, he concludes his article with almost exactly the same words:

"Whatever it takes, we will defeat terrorism... We will do everything possible to keep our country safe."

Does "whatever it takes" include keeping control orders?

May & Cameron I ask because, apparently, there is a big row within the Coalition about the future of these orders. Cameron is being asked to choose between Home Secretary Theresa May and the security services on the one hand - who want to keep the orders - and Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats, plus Dominic Grieve and Ken Clarke, on the other, who want them repealed.

Control orders have been described by the Centre for Social Cohesion as "imperfect" but as a necessary instrument of national security. A recent CSC report listed the individuals detained by COs including "Faraj Hassan al-Saadi, convicted in Italy for membership of a terrorist group and described as the ‘European envoy’ of Musab al-Zarqawi, the former head of al-Qaeda in Iraq". Andrew Rawnsley reports that "the head of MI5, Jonathan Evans, wants to keep control orders";

"He used a speech last month to lobby publicly for the governing parties to break their promises to the voters. One senior figure with a ringside seat for this battle remarks: 'This is what they always do. When Jonathan Evans eyeballs the prime minister and says, 'I can't guarantee that the public will be safe from terrorism if you don't give me this', it is hard for the prime minister to stand up to that."

The Liberal Democrats remain staunchly in favour of repeal, however, and Chris Huhne - formerly his party's home affairs spokesman - reiterated his own position on BBC1's Politics Show earlier:

“I very firmly believe that the values that we have in this country of a fair trial, that you should know what you’re accused of, you shouldn’t be locked up without knowing what you’re accused of, put under house arrest, is not the sort of thing that we have traditionally done in this country.”

Faced with the tension between the two sides David Cameron, according to Mr Rawnsley, forecast a "f**king car crash". James Forsyth concludes that the Coalition will probably end up abolishing COs. He's probably right but what will the "spooks" want in return? They've already got MORE resources from the government - despite the austerity across the rest of Whitehall. It is likely that they may get less distracting examination of the kind that Benedict Brogan details on his blog:

"[MI5 and MI6] are having to allocate ever growing resources to answering the various legal processes launched against them, from police investigations to civil cases. Senior officers, who should be devoted to doing what they do best – wrongfooting the bad guys – are being sent off to spend months or years on a pointless judicial treadmill. Surely what we have learned from Yemen is that the threat is as grave as ever. David Cameron has tried to cut through the mess by effectviely paving the way for complainants to be paid off. Surely though now is the time to say enough and invoke the national interest to call off the judicial jihadists."


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