Tory Rifkind backs control orders


Sir Malcolm Rifkind believes there is no safe alternative to control orders

Political wrangling over control orders has intensified as another senior Tory backed the controversial system.

Sir Malcolm Rifkind, chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee, followed former Conservative leader Lord Howard in arguing there was no safe alternative.

The Liberal Democrats campaigned for the abolition of control orders at the general election, with Chris Huhne – now Energy Secretary – describing them as an “affront to British justice”.

There had been speculation that the junior coalition partner was on the verge of getting its way on the issue, after taking a major hit over university tuition fee hikes.

However, Prime Minister David Cameron is now coming under mounting pressure from within his own party to ensure that the main elements of the monitoring system remain in place.

Sir Malcolm told the Evening Standard: “I think there are quite dangerous people for whom they provide the least unsatisfactory method of control. The problem exists because they can’t be imprisoned without trial, nor is it safe to allow them to be at liberty without some sort of constraint.

“If there are ways in which they can be made less rigorous without losing their primary purpose that obviously needs to be looked at. At the moment I’m inclined towards saying they should continue.”

Earlier, Downing Street denied that tough negotiations between coalition allies over the fate of control orders could leave people at risk.

Former Director of Public Prosecutions and Lib Dem peer Lord Macdonald has been carrying out a review of the measures, and the Prime Minister’s spokesman said the outcome is due “very shortly”, adding: “We will take our decision based on what is in the interests of national security.”

Mr Cameron’s Lib Dem deputy Nick Clegg is delivering a speech on civil liberties later this week, but aides said it will not include any announcements on control orders.

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