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Ex-UK Home Secretary Clarke takes top judges to task over terror

[JURIST] Former UK Home Secretary Charles Clarke [profile] took senior British judges to task over terrorism in an editorial published Monday in London's Evening Standard newspaper, saying that they had repeatedly refused to meet with him to discuss the interpretation of human rights law in light of security needs, and that their disengagement had to change as it was fuelling "dangerously confused and ill-informed debate which challenges Britain's adherence to the European convention on human rights." Wrote Clarke, "One of the consequences of the Human Rights Act is that our most senior judiciary are taking decisions of deep concern to the security of our society without any responsibility for that security." The Guardian has more. Earlier this year Clarke successfully guided the 2006 Terrorism Act [text; JURIST op-ed] through Parliament before being sacked [JURIST report] in May in a furor over early release of foreign criminals before deportation reviews.

Tensions between leading UK political leaders and the judiciary have increased since 9/11, and dramatically so since the London bombings of July 7, 2005, with Prime Minister Tony Blair recently promising a review [JURIST report] of "whether primary legislation is needed to address the issue of Court rulings which over-rule the Government in a way that is inconsistent with other EU countries interpretation of the European Convention on Human Rights." Last week Labour Party MP John Denham, chair of the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee [official website], called the brewing confrontation with the courts a "constitutional crisis" [JURIST report]. On Monday, lawyers for current British Home Secretary John Reid asked the Court of Appeal in London to overturn a ruling [JURIST report] that terrorism suspects cannot be detained without charge under so-called control orders, arguing that a judgment last week by a High Court judge based on his reading of the European Convention on Human Rights contained "misunderstandings and errors."

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