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Clarke's Anti-terror Plan

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Charles ClarkeCharles Clarke
The Home Secretary Charles Clarke is giving details of the new proposal for dealing with suspected terrorists today.

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The Home Secretary Charles Clarke will spell out the government's new proposals for dealing with suspected terrorists in a statement later today.

The Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesman Mark Oaten talks about the Government's new legislation dealing with terror suspects.

The Shadow Home Secretary David Davis and the Home Secretary Charles Clarke on the publication of the Prevention of Terrorism Bill.
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The legislation comes to replace the existing anti-terrorism legal system that expires on March 14th.

The new Prevention of Terrorism Bill would give the Home Secretary the power to detain terrorist suspects, foreign and British alike, without trial.

The suspects could be held under house arrest, curfew or tagged.

Many MPs see this as a challenge to our judicial system as it would involve suspending the right to jury trial.

Principle of Justice

Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesman, Mark Oaten, says that "whenever we're dealing with somebody's liberties, which is home detention or to do with other activities such as having tagging on, it should be a judge that takes that decision and you should have it on what we describe a heavy burden of proof."

He sees this as an important principle of justice.

But Charles Clarke argues that the decision taken by the Home Secretary will automatically go straight to a senior judge who will then consider that decision and have the power to overturn it within 7 days.

He does not want to give the power of the initial decision to the judge because "the Home Secretary is responsible for protecting the national security of the country", whilst a judge has "the responsibility to oversee that the judicial system is properly carried through".

Mark Oaten says he understands that terrorism is a problem but he does not think it is "such a severe problem that you have to throw away the very, very strong principles of justice we have in this country".

Extension

If no agreement is met by March 14th, those terrorist suspects currently held in prison, such as Belmarsh, would be able to walk free.

The Shadow Home Secretary David Davis suggest an extension to the current legislation "to allow time to consider the whole thing in deliberate time, after the general election, not in the shadow of general election so that decisions are made properly not in a rush and ill thought".

But the Home Secretary does not want an extension to the current legal system because he thinks it discriminates the UK and non-UK citizens and it is not proportionate in the way it deals with those people.


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