UK House of Lords drops 42-day detention period from anti-terror bill

[JURIST] The UK House of Lords on Monday rejected a proposal supported by Prime Minister Gordon Brown [official websites] to increase the amount of time authorities may detain terrorism suspects without charge. The upper house of Parliament voted 309-118 to amend an anti-terrorism bill [materials; BBC Q/A] by eliminating a highly contentious provision that would have increased the maximum period for holding uncharged suspects from 28 days to 42. Among the Lords arguing against the extension was former Attorney General Peter Goldsmith [official profile], who had written [Guardian op-ed] that the proposal is "wrong in principle and dangerous in practice." Bloomberg News has more. The Times has local coverage.

In June, the House of Commons narrowly approved the 42-day detention provision after it was amended [JURIST reports] to apply only in "grave and exceptional" cases of terrorist threats. Brown and other proponents of the extension have argued [Times op-ed] it is necessary to protect national security. Then-UK Home Secretary John Reid called for longer pre-charge time limits last year, and current Home Secretary Jacqui Smith proposed the 42-day detention period [JURIST reports] in December. The 28-day period was instituted in 2005 after the Commons defeated a proposal [JURIST report] by then-Prime Minister Tony Blair's government to increase the period to 90 days.

 

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