Page last updated at 02:25 GMT, Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Control orders ruling: Key cases

The Law Lords have ruled on a key plank of the government's counter-terrorism strategy - control orders.

What do we know about the cases involved in the legal challenges against the home secretary?

CASE ONE: MB

MB is a naturalised British citizen, who was made subject to a control order in September 2005.

His story began when police stopped him at Manchester Airport in March 2005 as he trying to board a flight for Syria. Police and security service officers interviewed him but allowed him to go. The next day he was stopped at Heathrow and it was believed he was trying to get to Yemen.

In making the control order, the home secretary said the security services believed MB was planning to fight in Iraq.

MB is single and his control order restricts him to a home in South Yorkshire.

He took his case to the High Court in April 2006, claiming that the manner of how he was placed under the restrictions breached his right to a fair trial.

Ruling in his favour, Mr Justice Sullivan criticised the legality of the control orders regime. He said it was an "understatement" that MB had not received a fair-hearing. The home secretary was relying on a "thin veneer of legality" provided in the legislation and there had been no proper independent judicial oversight.

Mr Justice Sullivan made a Declaration of Incompatibility against the control order regime, saying that it breached human rights. The ruling requires ministers to rethink a law, but it does not strike it out.

However, the Home Secretary appealed against that ruling and won in the Court of Appeal in August 2006. Three senior judges said that even though MB could not see closed evidence amassed against him, there were checks and balances to provide a fair hearing.

The Law Lords have now agreed with that ruling, saying that MB was denied a fair trial because o fthe manner in which his case was dealt with. They have ordered the courts to rethink the case.

The Lords rejected a second element of MB's appeal that a control order amounted to a criminal punishment which should be subject to open criminal proceedings.

CASE TWO: JJ, KK, GG, HH, NN and LL

These six men are at the heart of the key challenge over whether or not the control order regime breaches a right to liberty.

All the men were said in court to be Iraqi nationals. One of the men, LL, said he was Iranian. He later absconded and the BBC won a legal battle to name him as Bestun Salim.

The men were all originally held under Terrorism Act 2000 powers, then released, then re-detained pending deportation and finally placed under control orders.

In their joint appeal, the men said the control orders breached their right to liberty because the regime contradicted protections against unreasonable detention in human rights law.

Their control orders included 18-hour curfews and severe restrictions on their movements.

Lord Carlile, the government's independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, said in one of his reports that these kinds of restrictions fell "not very far short of house arrest".

Mr Justice Sullivan quashed the orders but stayed his ruling pending appeal. The Court of Appeal backed his decision in a major defeat for the government. The home secretary issued new less restrictive order - but before all of them could be served LL disappeared.

The Law Lords have agreed that the original 18-hour curfews were too restrictive and breached human rights. However, it is now not entirely clear where the limit will lie as one of the Lords suggested a curfew of up to 18 hours may be permissable.

CASE THREE: AF

AF is a dual UK/Libyan national who lives in Manchester. He was put under a control order on 2 June 2006. He has a banking degree and had previously planned to be an accountant in the UK. Divorced, he has a fiancé in Libya, according to court documents.

The home secretary alleged that he was linked to extremists in Manchester who were members of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group.

His original control order included an 18-hour curfew. But when JJ and others won their case, the home secretary changed AF's order to a 14-hour curfew.

Mr Justice Ouseley quashed the control order in March 2007 - but allowed a new modified one to be made. Given that other cases were already heading to the Lords, AF's case was allowed to leapfrog the Court of Appeal and join them.

The Lords have now ruled that AF's case is similar to MB's and that it should be re-examined by the lower courts because rules on fair trials had been breached over secret evidence. AF also lost on the issue of whether or not a control order was a criminal punishment.

CASE FOUR: E

E is Tunisian but stateless and one of the first controllees. He lives with his family in north-west London.

His order was taken out on 12 March 2005, the day after the legislation came into force. Before then, he had been held in prison without charge under the system subsequently ruled illegal by the Law Lords.

The control order was renewed in March 2006 - but he then challenged its further renewal in February 2007.

In the original order, the home secretary said he was a member of the Tunisian Fighting Group and actively supported people involved in terrorism.

One particular intelligence allegation links him to people blamed for the assassination in Afghanistan of a senior enemy of the Taleban and to al-Qaeda days before the 9/11 attacks on the US.

E argued that renewing his control order was wrong because the home secretary had made no reasonable attempt to decide whether or not he should be prosecuted instead.

E's wife also argued the order breached her rights and those of their children. But the Court of Appeal ruled in the home secretary's favour.

All of the Law Lords rejected E's case saying that it had no merit.



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