Page last updated at 12:31 GMT, Friday, 3 July 2009 13:31 UK

Court revokes 'exile' decision

High Court, London
The suspect was moved from London to Leicester in May

A decision by the government to "exile" a terror suspect from London on the basis of secret evidence must be revoked, the High Court has ruled.

A judge ruled the decision was flawed because the father of five had not been given enough information to mount a fair defence.

But he said he had no choice but to revoke the move because of new rules governing secret evidence.

The 36-year-old suspect was moved from London to Leicester in May.

Known only as BM, he is accused of being "a prominent member of a network of Islamist extremists".

On the basis of the closed material, I would have decided that the decision was not flawed
Mr Justice Mitting

The British man was moved to Leicester through a modification to a control order already restricting his movements.

The government said the move was necessary to stop BM associating with his extremist contacts and to minimise the risk of him absconding.

New rules

The House of Lords recently ruled that terror suspects subject to control orders must be given a good sense of the allegations against them.

This means the home secretary has to decide, in many of the control order cases, whether or not to put more secret intelligence material against the suspects in the public domain.

Home Secretary Alan Johnson said he could not make more of the case against BM public due to national security considerations.

Mr Justice Mitting said he had no choice but to revoke the move to Leicester because the suspect had not been told why he was being separated from his family.

But he said there was "closed material" - evidence heard by him in secret - that would have led him to a different decision if the law had allowed him to take it into account.

"On the basis of the closed material, I would have decided that the decision was not flawed and would have upheld the modification, notwithstanding its significant and highly adverse impact upon BM's family, in particular upon his children," he said.

'Civil right'

BM's lawyers argued at the High Court in London that his continuing "internal exile" infringed his civil right to occupy his home.

Mr Justice Mitting agreed and ruled the modification to his control order deprived BM "of a civil right for a significant period".

The judge gave the home secretary seven days to revoke the order and return BM to his home.

Government lawyers are considering whether to mount an urgent appeal.

The judge refused leave to appeal but the home secretary can still ask the Appeal Court to hear the case.

Shami Chakrabarti, director of human rights group Liberty, said: "As if house arrest forever without charge wasn't bad enough, now control orders have an extra layer of cruelty - internal exile.

"Once more the courts have stood up for common decency while Parliament lags behind."

Controllee seeks departure

In a separate development, Britain's longest serving controllee, Mahmoud Abu Rideh could soon leave the UK for good. Mr Rideh, a stateless Palestinian with severe mental health problems, says he wants to leave the UK but has no travel papers.

Today, the Home Office offered to give him a special travel document, although the precise nature of that certificate, and whether it would prevent his movement between countries, is not clear.

Mr Rideh must also find a country that will take him and hopes to go to either Iran or Gaza.

The Home Office has maintained his control order for four years, saying that he poses a significant threat to national security. He says he does not know the case against him and a European Court judgement in his favour provided the basis for the Law Lords' ruling on secret evidence.



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