|Date: 27/06/2012 Time: 03:01:00 PM
The UK Government should consider allowing
suspected terrorists to apply for bail, the independent reviewer of terrorism
legislation said Wednesday. David Anderson, lawyer, said in a new report it
was hard to see why everyone arrested under the Terrorism Act 2000 must be
denied the chance of bail.
While releasing some terrorist suspects on bail would be "unthinkable", it
should be considered "so that peripheral players who pose no risk to public
safety need not be kept in detention, and a charging decision would not have
to be reached within 14 days", he said.
Anderson said bail was already available to suspected terrorists in
immigration cases and to those arrested on suspicion of offences under the
Terrorism Act 2006.
"There are of course terrorist suspects for whom the grant of bail would be
unthinkable: but the same is true of many suspects arrested under Pace (Police
and Criminal Evidence Act 1984)," he said.
"Suspected murderers and rapists enjoy the presumption of bail, even if
they are not likely in practice to be granted it.
"The need to place suspected terrorists in a separate category is not
He went on: "There are other terrorist suspects, arrested under section 41,
whose suspected criminality may be of an altogether lesser order, and who
could realistically be considered for bail. "The grant of bail might indeed in
some cases be advantageous to the police as well as to such suspects, for it
would stop the clock on the period of detention and enable interviews to be
postponed until other evidence had been retrieved, translated and assessed."
Writing in his annual report, Anderson added that counter-terrorism law in
the UK was "bitty, messy and hard for even its practitioners to comprehend as
a whole", adding that at times it "gives excessive weight to the idea that
terrorism is different". The law risks "losing sight of the principle that
terrorism is above all crime, and that special laws to deal with it need to be
justified by the peculiar nature of the crime", he said.
"Elements of it have been conceived and applied with excessive enthusiasm."
Anderson said changes to terror laws in recent years, including reducing
the limit for pre-charge detention to 14 from 28 days, amounted to "a cautious
rebalancing in favour of liberty".
"In my judgment they do not materially increase the risk from terrorism,"