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Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Compromise plan over control orders

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Controversial control orders could be replaced with a new three-tier system of restrictions

Control orders could be replaced with a three-tier system of restrictions for terror suspects to avoid a Cabinet split on the issue, the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation has said.

Lord Carlile said the compromise move could meet Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg’s civil liberties concerns over the use of controversial control orders “without disproportionately risking innocent lives”.

A Home Office review of counter-terror measures is reported to have backed the retention of the orders, which impose severe restrictions on suspects who have not been charged, after receiving representations from MI5.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Lord Carlile said foreign travel restrictions could be placed upon those suspected of wanting to travel abroad to train as terrorists.

A second tier of general travel restrictions could be imposed on individuals with “a more developed intent to participate in terrorist activity”.

And, for the most serious cases, activity restriction orders could be enforced “where a judge was satisfied on the much raised standard of the balance of probabilities that the individual is a terrorist”.

“The system would have an increasing scale of restrictions, including curfews (but not compulsory relocation) for the highest tier,” Lord Carlile said.

His comments came after former Conservative leadership contender David Davis warned earlier this month that up to 50 coalition MPs could vote against the Government if it seeks to keep control orders.

Mr Davis – Tory shadow home secretary until he resigned his seat over civil liberties issues – said he would vote against any attempt by Home Secretary Theresa May to keep the orders, which have been compared to house arrest. His comments were made amid claims that Prime Minister David Cameron feared a “car crash” on the issue which could split the Cabinet.

Liberal Democrat peer and former director of public prosecutions Lord Macdonald, who is overseeing the conduct of the counter-terror review, is reported to have written to Mrs May warning that he would publicly denounce any decision to retain control orders.

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