Rejection of 90 Day Limit

10 November 2005

Boris Johnson MP hails Commons rejection of 90 day limit

Commenting on the defeat of the Government’s plans to extend detention without charge to 90 days, Boris Johnson MP today said:

It is vital that people are not fooled by the Government’s rhetoric. This measure was as much about party politics as about security. Tony Blair brought this extreme and unnecessary measure forward in the hope of dividing the Tory Party. He lost. Labour backbenchers have now tasted blood and like the man-eaters of Tsavo they will be coming back for more.

The 90 day proposal was defeated by a majority of 31 MPs, including some 49 Labour rebels, and was the first time such a Government backed motion has been rejected since Tony Blair came to power in 1997. A compromise motion, put forward by the backbench Labour MP David Winnick, to extend the police’s power of detention without charge of terrorist suspects from 14 days to 28 days was subsequently passed by 323 votes to 290.

13 thoughts on “Rejection of 90 Day Limit”

  1. Well I say hurrah, I’ve always been vigorously opposed to these measures, and I am rejoicing in the government’s defeat! Don’t be taken in by Blair’s rhetoric that MPs went against the wishes of the country either (as astonishing as it may sound to hear him say that!), almost everyone I know is opposed to this bill. They’re mostly young labour/lib dem supporters… I think it’s the first time they’ve ever agreed with me!

  2. An excellent non-party political victory for liberty.

    Next we need to tackle the Government’s determination to rob us of the right to make reasoned criticisms of religion with their freedom-crushing bill currently going through the parliamentary works. Not so much defence of the realm, more defence of Islam this time.

    Unfortunately on that issue, many of the leftie Labour MPs either have a big Muslim vote in their constituency or are ideologically Gallowayist fellow travellers, so the Tories will have their work cut out. I’m assuming we can rely on Boris to do his bit on this one as he will probably one of the first to be rounded up on account of his satirical look at violent religious fanaticism.

  3. Nonsense as usual. The piece is full of non sequiturs and really, for the most part, hopelessly irrelevant to the subject supposedly under discussion.

    One really has to wonder is Boris quite so stupid and so out-of-touch as to believe what he writes himself. Perhaps he is simply blinded by ambition and by irrational hatred of Tony Blair. That’s to say, he has become so annoyed by the thought that Mr. Blair stands in the way of his ambitions as to have lost all sense of proportion.

    Who knows? It would take a psychiatrist to disentangle Boris’s motives.

    Frankly, I’m fed up with him. In the past he could be amusing at times and I rather liked him. Now, he has become a weekly blight on the pages of the Telegraph. He should seek for a column at the so-called “Independent” instead.

  4. Au contraire Damian, we come here to be entertained and informed and Boris wrote this short article very well.

  5. HOw about actually constructing an argument Damian?

    Perhaps the worst aspect of this assault on our liberty has been the politicisation of the Police who suddenly appear very pro-active at lobbying MPs – though pro-active is not the word one woudl use to describe their patrolling of the streets (strictly 9 to 5 if we really have to thank you very much).

    If the Police can’t do the job without 90 day internment, then let’s hand over the anti-terrorist struggle to an agency that can – if necessary creating one.

  6. Despite what some people say here, I liked and agreed with Boris’s articles on this subject. I say this though I am normally sceptical of much of this civil liberties and human rights business; and my gut reaction is that “all these criminals should be hanged and flogged, especially if they’re guilty. Its the only language they understand!”

    Howevr, in this case, anyone who supports 90 days detention, please ask yourselves:

    Suppose that you are a South Asian Moslem called Khan. Your family are living quietly in Britain. One day your mother, or your son, is the victim of a malicious or mistaken allegation by a suspicious neighbour.

    Suppose that in the police records by clerical error your mother, or your son, are confused with someone else called Khan who once lived in the same neighbourhood. Suppose that a slightly unimaginative or overworked policeman to whom all South Asians look much the same, arrests your mother or your son, forms a view that they will crack and confess to something if interrogated often enough, and they are held for twelve weeks without charge, being repeatedly accused of something they have not done, then grudgingly released.

    By the time that they come out, they have been absent for so long that they may have lost their jobs. They may not have kept up their rent or mortgage payments and also be in danger of losing their home.

    They have been away so long that people will have noticed their absence, and if they know the reason be suspicious of the whole family.

    Any young children in the family, for whom three months is a long time, will confused and upset as to where father or auntie is, and wonder why people look at them suspiciously.

    Then someone with militant views tells you that your family has suffered this injustice because you are Muslims. He presents a selective but plausible series of examples as to how this is part of the oppresion of your brother Muslims around the world, and how it is time to fight back.

    Now ask yourself:

    Will you be more likely, or less likely, to support a dangerously extremist organisation in future?

    If on a jury, trying a fellow Muslim accused by the police of involvement in terrorism, will you now be more or less wiling to send them to prison?

    If you hear something that would help the police, but reporting it would mean to betraying a fellow Muslim. Will you now be more or less likely to report it?

  7. Boris

    The editorial in Today’s Speccy is one of the best summaries I have ever read about a cunning piece of political chicanery. The problem that remains is that Tony Blair knew that he would gain political capital, whichever way it went. If he won the vote, it ‘showed that he was still the dominant force in his party’; if he lost the vote then he had a get-out card for any future terrorist incidents – “This happened because we don’t have a 90 day detention option and its all the Tories fault”.

    The disgraceful collusion between the two Blairs over the ’90 day without charge’ clause is, in my opinion, the worst episodes of police politicking in the history of the Metropolitan Police. Moreover, through ACPO, Clarke dragged other CCs into it: the early stirrings of a police state? I thought I had seen it all, following the Commissioners antics after the London July bombings, but his behaviour over the past week or so has been even more blatant and disgraceful. When he left Downing Street a couple of days ago and preened for the cameras, I swear I saw a remnant of crap still on his nose. This had nothing to do with police needs; it merely served the needs of the Nulab cabal or maybe even the immediate political needs of Tony Blair – period!

    There is no evidence whatsoever that a ’90 day detention without charge’ period will in any way stem terrorist acts: just the opposite in fact. It would encourage sloppy or ‘swift’ police chiefs to curtail thorough investigation in favour of potentially quick results and implement fishing expeditions. Had the clause been implemented, the police may as well have been placed under the aegis of the MAFF rather than the Home Office (but of course, MAFF no longer exists – another cunning ploy by this urbanist, internationist oriented administration).

    It seems incredible that any competent and serious police officer would want to arrest anyone suspected of a very serious offence without prima facie evidence sufficient to lay a holding charge – before they are arrested. It is, in policing terms, a cardinal sin to pounce too soon and inimical to successful investigation and later prosecution, no matter what the heinous plot. It usually means that any burgeoning conspiracy would be disturbed and the probably evidence destroyed because of half-cocked interdiction. It is madness! If reliable intelligence is received indicating impending murderous acts, then adequate resources and competent surveillance coverage, both physical and technical, should be available to ensure capture of the individual (or conspirators, if more than one perpetrator is involved) in flagrante delicto. And that doesn’t mean waiting until the suspect(s) get on a tube with bombs strapped to him/them. There are amost always conspiratorial preparatory acts to all these murderous plots. I thought proactive police investigation was now firmly established in the Met.? The ‘dirty tricks squad’ these days can surely work wonders with intrusive technical surveillance techniques? They even used them in the Balkan Street and Spaghetti House sieges 30 odd years ago. With today’s tools applied by competent professionals, it must be a piece of cake, by comparison with the resources that were available then. Most effective coppers plead for more time before arrest, rather than having to retrieve or reclaim evidence once the gaffe had been blown. In the case of imminent threats, then obviously there will be sufficient evidence available to lay at least a holding charge if the plot is THAT close to fruition. The complete upper strata of British policing appears to have gone bonkers, aside from dabbling in party politics. In my view Blair will be lucky to get 28 days enacted (if the Lords don’t scotch that too). The only change in the law that is needed is to admit, as evidence in court, the results of garnered communications interception. But that would sometimes presents a clear and present danger for quislings in the government or bent police officers, which is probably why it won’t be implemented.

  8. How does a poll of X number of people constitute public support? Polls say what those conducting them wish them to say. I believe that there are many more people against the bill than newspapers etc. would have us believe. At any rate, I am glad that the bill was defeated. 90 days seems too much. If a suspect is arrested (and at that point, there should exist some evidence of his/her intention to commit an offence), it can’t take 90 days to find something with which to charge that suspect. If it is taking that long, chances are that there’s nothing to find. I’m not a namby-pamby, p.c. type of person; merely, I am interested in preserving the justice system which, until recent years, had served us so well.

  9. I seem to remember reading around the time of the Labour party conference that the police had arrested many people under the anti-terrorism laws. Mostly just protesters who were no more terrorists than the Queen is. I think that the elderly heckler who was removed from the conference hall may even have been dealt with under anti-terrorism.

    My point is that the laws can be abused just as much by the Authorities. Ian Blair’s dreadful error of judjement in the case of the young Brazilian shot dead on the tube shows how dangerous this can be to all of us.

    90 days incarceration and no doubt continuous interrogation is not far short of torture. This is not the way to integrate the internees into society if they are later released without charge.

  10. Quite correct Mark, Walter Wolfgang was detained under the Terrorism Act. Similar action was taken against a woman in Scotland who persisted in going for her morning jog along a cycle track. Some readers may remember the Spectator story ‘Blunkett’s police state’ about a year ago which described more abuse of the law.

    Illiberal measures were served up after September 11th and now again after July 7th. On the morning of the vote Blair brought up the arrests in Australia and bombs in Jordan as part of his argument to Michael Howard. It’s pathetic. You either have a free country, or you don’t. 50 more outrages and 50 more laws and we truly will be in a police state, and there will be nowhere along the way to draw the line, because there already isn’t; Blair was entirely correct to point out that his opponents had no particular evidence to pinpoint 28 days as the correct figure, just as his opponents were equally correct to point out that he had no particular evidence to pinpoint 90 days.

    The correct figure is 0 days. Treat “terrorists” as the psychotic CRIMINALS they are under the law through proper legal process, not as fantastical bogeymen with magic powers we have never encountered before. Utterly ridiculous.

  11. Just in case anyone is interested I am going to add a little coda to the MMR debate on that thread. BJ was completely wrong to try and claim this was a closed case and that MMR was “safe” (whatever he meant by that and obivously he didn’t mean 100% safe because not even its most ardent defenders claim

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