transport system on July 7 killing 52 people and injuring 700, followed two weeks later by four attempted bombings did more than just spread, death destruction and fear.
They forced the Labour government to re-think its anti-terrorist legislation The plan to give police unprecedented powers to hold suspected terrorists without charge or trial for 90 days was considered an attack on human rights by critics and was rejected by the House of Commons. Many believe it deviates from the principle of habeas corpus – the right to be charged or freed.
Labour MP Emily Thornberry said: “Our criminal justice system is based on the idea that we make mistakes and if it wasn’t based on this idea we wouldn’t need trials. Police would just arrest people and put them in jail straight away but of course police officers make mistakes”. Civil rights activists blasted the proposals. Ninety days in the high security Belmarsh prison is the equivalent of three months hard labour without charge or trial, many believe.
Civil rights lawyer Michael Mansfield said: “You are kept in high security, harsh conditions in Belmarsh and it’s been shown in the past that those conditions led to physical and mental detrioration. In those circumstances there are very high risks that we are going to go back to the days of false confession”.
The proposal to extend the detention time from 14 to 90 days came from the police as they say that is the time they need to investigate complex cases.
Bob Milton is a former Metropolitan Police commander.
“The investigation dosen’t start until we actually arrest the terrorist. We can uncover a lot more evidence in the addresses, we have to decrypt the computers, we have to do overseas inquiries, we have to translate documents it’s quite difficult to do that in 14 days,” he said.
The government and police having lost the vote must now come to terms with the what the House wanted – 28 days detention without charge for terrorist suspects.