[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Monday, 4 October, 2004, 15:59 GMT 16:59 UK
Timeline: Anti-terror laws
Belmarsh Prison
Belmarsh Prison, where some of the detainees are being held
As the Law Lords start hearing an appeal into the UK's right to detain foreign terror suspects without trial, BBC News Online looks at the main events in the row over the legislation.


15 October - Home Secretary David Blunkett unveils tough new measures in the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act (ATCSA) just over a month after the September 11 atrocities.

He admits it will be necessary to opt out of part of the European Convention on Human Rights to detain people without trial, but insists the measures would 'protect and enhance our rights, not diminish them'

14 December - The ATCSA receives royal assent

19 December - Eight suspected international terror suspects are detained in London, Luton and Birmingham after Mr Blunkett approves their 'certification' under the act.

The eight are Djamel Ajouaou, Abu Rideh and the un-named men A, C, D, E, F and G.

Detainee Ajouaou voluntarily leaves the UK, as allowed under the legislation, and flies to his homeland of Morocco.


5 February - Suspect B is certificated and detained

12 March - Detainee F, an Algerian, voluntarily leaves the UK for France

22 April - Suspects H and I are certificated and detained

30 July - The judicial body which hears appeals from those detained under the act, the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC), rules the law is 'discriminatory', 'unlawful' and 'disproportionate' because it only allows the internment of foreign nationals

25 October - The Court of Appeal allows an appeal by the Home Secretary over the SIAC ruling, with appeal judges saying the government is entitled to conclude there is a public emergency threatening the UK

23 November - Suspect K is certificated and detained


15 January - Suspects M and 4 are certificated and detained

12 February - The Government's independent reviewer of anti-terrorism laws, Lord Carlile of Berriew, says Mr Blunkett's use of the powers is 'appropriate'.

But he recommends the suspects should be kept separate from convicted prisoners and allowed more 'internal freedom' within jail

7 August - Suspect 3 is certificated and detained

2 October - Suspect 2 is certificated and detained

30 October - SIAC delivers its first rulings on individual detainees, upholding the Home Secretary's decision in all 10 it had considered

18 December - An influential committee of Privy Counsellors, set up by Mr Blunkett, is highly critical of the ATCSA's detention powers and insists they should be replaced 'as a matter of urgency'


26 February - Announcing plans for new anti-terror legislation, Mr Blunkett says his controversial internment powers will remain an 'essential component' of the Government's measures

18 March - Detainee M is freed from prison after Lord Chief Justice Lord Woolf upholds an SIAC ruling that his detention was unjustified and based on evidence that was 'wholly unreliable and should not have been used'.

The 37-year-old Libyan is the first to successfully challenge his detention, after 16 months at Belmarsh high security prison in south-east London

23 April - Detainee G is released from bail after SIAC rule that the 35-year-old Algerian can be held under effective house arrest due to mental illness.

Mr Blunkett condemns the decision as 'extraordinary', adding that others would consider it 'bonkers'.

5 August - Parliament's all-party Joint Committee on Human Rights calls for an alternative to be found to the ATCSA's internment powers, condemning the law's 'corrosive effect' on human rights.

Reforms should instead allow more suspected terrorists to be charged and face trial rather than remain in legal limbo, members say

21 September - Detainee D is freed from Belmarsh jail on the order of the Home Secretary. The Home Office declines to explain why the Algerian has been released after nearly three years in detention

4 October - Appellate Committee of the House of Lords begins to hear an appeal by nine of the detainees, who hope to overturn the Court of Appeal ruling from October 2002.

27 November - UN Committee on Torture calls for UK to review laws allowing suspects to be held without trial.

Liberal Democrats call for change in the law to allow phone-tapping evidence to be admissible in court so trials of terror suspects can take place.


21 January - Minister Chris Mullin admits "any decent democrat" would be concerned over the detention without trial of foreign terror suspects at Belmarsh.


News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific