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UK Home Office amends anti-terror bill

[JURIST] UK Home Secretary Charles Clarke [official profile] has indicated in a letter to his Conservative Party shadow that he will amend the Prevention of Terrorism bill [text, PDF] so that the government would have to apply to a judge before detaining terror suspects under house arrest without trial. The amendment appears to mark a change in the government's position, which had long resisted pressure for judges to be responsible for such orders. Prime Minister Tony Blair's office has however denied [Number 10 press release] any concession, saying the home secretary would still grant police the power to arrest and detain any terror suspect while a judge decided the issue. Under Clarke's amendment, the home secretary would have to apply to a High Court judge for a control order who would then have 48 hours to decide whether to grant the order. Clarke is seeking house arrest and other powers to replace indefinite jail terms for foreign terror suspects which the UK law lords found breached human rights. BBC News has more.

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