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Last Updated: Wednesday, 9 November 2005, 21:53 GMT
Vote defeat 'disappoints' police
Tony Blair leaving the Commons
The defeat is a significant one for Tony Blair
Scotland Yard has said it is "disappointed" at MPs' rejection of plans to hold terror suspects without charge for up to 90 days.

Police had asked for the 90-day limit, it said in a joint statement with the Association of Chief Police Officers.

But Acpo's president, Chris Fox, said it respected the views of Parliament.

Civil rights group Liberty's Shami Chakrabarti, an opponent of the plan, attacked the "politicisation" of senior officers pushing for a yes vote.

'Troubling' developments

"We are greatly heartened by this (vote against 90 days) despite concerted attempts to turn this into an issue of party tribalism and concerted political campaigns by senior policemen," she said.

"The politicisation of these officers is very troubling - almost as troubling as the proposals contained in this Bill."

The security of the nation is also important
Iqbal Sacranie
Muslim Council of Britain

Scotland Yard said it felt the 90 day period would have provided the most effective way of dealing with the current terrorist threat and the investigations needed to respond.

"We are disappointed that this has not been accepted," the statement said.

"However, we fully respect the decision of Parliament and will continue to use all the other legal tools at our disposal to combat the very real and serious threat of terrorism and work for the security and safety of the public.

"We will do our utmost professionally to make the best use of the extra days that have been given to us to make this country safer."

Cross-community support

Muslim Council of Britain secretary general Sir Iqbal Sacranie said the vote to reject 90-day detention was a "good verdict" and a "basic move to protecting the human rights of individuals".

On the 28 day compromise reached he added: "One would have thought 14 days would have been sufficient, however the case has been made by the police that they needed the time, and the security of the nation is also important."

The right to be promptly charged is the dividing line between liberty and arbitrary detention
Stephen Bowen
Amnesty International

The Muslim community's view on the proposals was the same as the UK community at large, but it had also found the impact of increased arrests "devastating", he added.

Chief Supt Ali Dizaei of the National Black Police Association said the 90-day period was "about bringing criminals determined to cause mayhem in this country to justice".

"We spoke to the black, Asian and Muslim communities and frankly they were in favour of this," he said.

'No evidence'

But Kevin Martin, president of the solicitors' professional body the Law Society, said it had campaigned against the extension and he was pleased politicians had accepted their arguments.

"Ninety day detention without charge cannot be justified," he said.

If the authorities had done their job properly, (the bombers) would not have been allowed to kill 52 innocent people
Kim Beer
Mother of 7 July victim

"People could have been locked up for months despite the police having no real evidence against them."

Civil rights organisations also welcomed the defeat.

Eric Metcalfe of Justice said it showed Parliament did not "kow-tow to popular pressure" but he also felt the decision to extend the limit to 28 days was disappointing.

And Amnesty International said it was a "sad day" for human rights when the three major political parties were publicly bartering over people's liberty.

"The right to be promptly charged is the dividing line between liberty and arbitrary detention," Amnesty's Stephen Bowen said.

Mother's view

But their comments came in contrast to those of the mother of one of the 7 July bomb victims.

She hit out at MPs who voted against 90 days, saying 28 days would not be long enough to find out what suspects knew.

Kim Beer, 47, whose hairdresser son Phil, 22, died in the blast near King's Cross tube station said: "The politicians should stand behind the police and help them.

"But if the authorities had done their job properly four months ago, when these people were being trailed and thought not to be a threat, then they would not have been allowed to kill 52 innocent people."


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