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Last Updated: Sunday, 9 October 2005, 21:18 GMT 22:18 UK
Lord Hurd

Douglas Hurd, Baron Hurd of Cresswell
I think the Home Secretary could waste a lot of time chasing after obnoxious clerics who've got good lawyers
Lord Hurd
Douglas Hurd, Baron Hurd of Westwell is the former Home Secretary (1985-1989) who, under Margaret Thatcher's government, was faced with the terrorist threat posed by the IRA. It was during his time that a ban on broadcasters transmitting direct speech by members of Sinn Fein was introduced, although this has been subsequently lifted.

The following article contains direct quotes from his interview with Panorama reporter Vivian White for "Blair v Blair" in which he set out his views on the proposed counter-terrorism measures and the wider issues of civil liberties, or "individual freedom", as he described it.

'The secret of good counter-intelligence'

"The secret of successful counterterrorism is intelligence, knowing your enemy. We're clearly short of intelligence, of, of good intelligence, accurate intelligence, erm, we rely on very broad, general intelligence, the kind of intelligence which led to the death of the innocent Brazilian. Erm, so long as the police intelligence is faulty in that sort of way, they'll have difficulty in persuading us that they, on the basis of that kind of intelligence, can lock somebody up for three months, uh, with any, without any kind of charge."

Does exclusion work?

Citing the case of Omar Bakri Mohammed, the self-styled radical "sheikh", who was excluded from the UK in August 2005, Vivian asked Lord Hurd whether he felt this was effective:

"I think that the young Muslim in Leeds, or in London, has heard much more about him since the Press fastened onto him and he went to Beirut, than they would have done otherwise."

"I think the Home Secretary could waste a lot of time chasing after obnoxious clerics who've got good lawyers. I don't know the evidence to say that what's said in mosques on a Friday is actually producing terrorism, I don't know the evidence of that. These are nasty people, saying nasty things; it doesn't follow that actually you should spend a lot of time trying to get them or get rid of them. And the idea that you've got rid of them by getting them to Beirut or somewhere like that in the world of television and the internet is nonsense."

"We tried this out against Sinn Fein. In Margaret Thatcher's time, we had a rule that Sinn Fein people were not actually going to be allowed to broadcast. It may have had some good effect initially, knocking them back on their heels, but what quickly happened is that the BBC hired actors and so there was Gerry Adams opening and shutting his mouth on the screen, but his words were actually pronounced by an actor. The Government became ridiculous."

"We shouldn't get into all that, it's not necessary. We should concentrate on acts of terrorism and preparation - I'm all in favour of that proposal, we do need a law which was proposed in 1996 I think by Lord Loin. We do need a law against the preparation of acts of terrorism but to chase after what people say I think is a dodgy business."


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