UK Liberty

Did the Government sex up the 42 day dossier?

Posted in detention without charge, politicians on liberty by ukliberty on June 11, 2008

More dishonesty from the Government. What the hell is wrong with these people?


Human rights group Liberty today received startling information relating to Ministerial claims about the use of the existing pre-charge detention limit for terror suspects. This information undermines repeated claims that the authorities have been “up against the buffers” with the current 28 day detention period.

Operation Overt, following the failed plot at Heathrow in August 2006, has been cited as one of the most complex counter-terrorism investigations in British history. As such, it has been repeatedly presented by the Government as critical evidence in support of an extension of pre-charge detention beyond 28 days.

Pursuant to Operation Overt, 24 people were arrested on 10 August 2006 and 17 were subsequently charged. All of those charged with conspiracy to murder were charged within 21 days. Of the five suspects held for 27 to 28 days, three were released without charge or further suspicion. Two were charged with other terrorism offences.

It has been consistently asserted (in relation to the two charged at the end of the 28 day period) that the evidence only came to light at the end of that period (see Notes to Editors).

Notwithstanding the sub-judice rule, the Home Secretary, other Government Ministers, the Head of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) and the Metropolitan Police have all given evidence or commented publicly on this point. This has been central to the argument that the police are ‘up against the buffers’ under the existing 28 day limit.

However, that information is inaccurate and misleading. The following corrections have now been confirmed by a lawyer working on the case:

The evidence relied upon to charge the two suspects, at the end of the 28 day period, was obtained by the police within four and 12 days respectively.

During the last 15 days of detention, interviewing of both suspects tailed off dramatically with average interview periods of only 10 and 16 minutes per day respectively.

None of the evidence relied upon was encrypted, required forensic analysis or contingent upon foreign intelligence.

Liberty Director Shami Chakrabarti said:

“I am shocked, angry and more than a little disappointed to find Ministers have repeatedly sexed up the operational pressures on the existing 28 day detention limit. Just last week in front of millions of television viewers, a senior Cabinet Minister told me that the full 28 days had been required for the gathering of evidence in three cases. Now I learn that wasn’t true. I hope that the similarities with the infamous Iraq vote will not be lost on Labour MPs tomorrow.”

No information may be disclosed that might identify the individuals concerned. The information revealed here does not prejudice future proceedings as it only relates to the time that evidence became available, not the quality of evidence or guilt or innocence of those awaiting trial.


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