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Slight Confused

Cactus Jack

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David Blunkett is to ask parliament to change the law after a terrorist suspect was freed from prison on bail.

The home secretary has described the release of an Algerian man with alleged links to al-Qaeda as "extraordinary".


The 35-year-old detainee, known only as "G", had been held at Belmarsh prison without trial for more than two years and was freed on mental health grounds.


Mr Blunkett wants the right to go to the Court of Appeal to fight any similar decisions in future.


Debate on changes


He also wants a second amendment to the Asylum Bill so that terror suspects can be electronically tagged if they are given bail. At present decisions are discretionary.


Both changes are due to be debated in the House of Lords next week


Lord Carlile QC, who is the government's independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, told BBC Radio 4's PM programme: "If what Mr Blunkett is suggesting is that both the government and the detainees should have a right of appeal against the decisions of SIAC to the Court of Appeal, in my view there is nothing wrong with asking for that."


He added that the Special Immigration Appeal Commission's (SIAC) decision to grant bail to G demonstrated that the legislation was working.


SIAC decided "G" should be freed on Thursday on strict bail conditions.




'House arrest' does not exist in UK law, instead G faces very strict bail conditions

Can only leave home with police escort

Contact allowed only with wife, daughter, solicitor or doctor

Anyone else must be approved by Home Office in advance

Electronic tag must be worn

Tag monitoring firm must be phoned five times a day

Equipment that can contact outside world - such as computer or mobile phone - banned

Existing land line phone removed and replaced with one supplied by authorities

Access to home must be given to police, immigration officers and tag monitoring firm

The three judges - appointed to review the cases of foreign nationals held because of suspected terrorist involvement - said that indefinite detention had caused a state of psychosis in "G".

They agreed with Mr Blunkett that the Algerian was dangerous because of his alleged links with al-Qaeda.


However, they argued the risk was manageable if the man was subjected to very strict bail conditions that in effect put him under house arrest.


Mr Blunkett said of the decision: "I have not called it bonkers, but no doubt other people will."


The judges said the man's mental deterioration made it less likely he would become involved in potentially dangerous activity.


"G" will be kept under constant surveillance, can only receive Home Office-approved visitors and will not be allowed access to a telephone or the internet.


'Massive pressure'


The home secretary said this might be satisfactory for people posing a low level risk but not for someone who the judges themselves had agreed could be a threat to life and liberty


"Allowing someone like this out on bail is an extraordinary decision, which puts massive pressure on our anti-terror and security services," he added.


A spokesman for Tony Blair said: "I think it is only three months ago that SIAC said there was indeed reasonable suspicion that the appellant is an international terrorist within the meaning of [anti-terror legislation] and reasonable belief that his presence in the UK is a risk to national security."



At the end of the day the government's job is to protect the state and the people who live in the United Kingdom

Andrew Dismore


Mr Blunkett said medical experts who assessed G had concluded that he did not require psychiatric accommodation.


But Gareth Peirce, the solicitor acting for "G", accused the home secretary of driving her client to madness.


But Labour MP Andrew Dismore said it was the government's job is to "protect the state and the people who live in the United Kingdom".


This is where I get confused:


The terror suspect is released as his detainment has turned him mental...............so the judge rules he can roam the streets of Briton. Anyone care to find the sense in that?

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What I'm wondering is how come David Blunkett can whisk through new rules when it suits him, but not when we want to throw out Abu Hamza or anyone else who should be deported immediately?


The two answers are either he can't change anything quick and he's just saying it, or he can change things quickly but he's too gutless to propose anything people might get upset about.



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