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Last Updated: Saturday, 29 November, 2003, 11:34 GMT
Blunkett 'faces contempt inquiry'
David Blunkett
David Blunkett denies his remarks were prejudicial
The Attorney General is to look at comments made by the home secretary about a terror suspect's arrest.

Lord Goldsmith said David Blunkett's remarks about Sajid Badat, 24, would be "considered" as part of a review of the reporting of his arrest.

Senior barristers warned the comments could potentially prejudice a trial of Mr Badat, arrested in Gloucester on Thursday, if he is charged.

Mr Blunkett's comments cannot be repeated for legal reasons.

But he said he was just stating the obvious.

'Very unwise'

Asked whether the scrutiny amounted to an investigation, a spokeswoman for Lord Goldsmith's said the word was "pretty strong".

"He will be having a look at the coverage of the case, including comments made about it by the home secretary, as he would in any case in which there was a concern about the reporting."

It is understood that Mr Blunkett's comments are unlikely to meet the legal definition of a contempt of court because of various factors, including the amount of time between their being made and any trial.

Attacking the Home Secretary's comments, Bar Council chairman Matthias Kelly said: "I think it is very regrettable... because if he wants to wreck any subsequent trial this is a really good way to go about it.

I implied that if you are using terrorism legislation, you are dealing with the threat of terrorism
David Blunkett

"And if the consequence of this is that a fair trial is not possible... I think that would be deeply unfortunate."

Speaking to Channel 4 News, Mr Kelly said it was "very very unwise for the home secretary to engage in this sort of bad-mouthing".

Mr Blunkett defended his remarks, telling the programme he had been stating the obvious.

He said: "I implied that if you are using terrorism legislation, you are dealing with the threat of terrorism. I think that is pretty self-evident to be honest.

Lord Goldsmith was appointed as the government's chief legal advisor in June 2001.

The BBC's Richard Lister
"Mr Blunkett said that his comments were pretty self-evident"

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