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Wednesday, 26 September, 2001, 20:46 GMT 21:46 UK
UK to review extradition measures
People sitting outside a cafe in London
Blunkett wants day-to-day life to continue as normal
Home Secretary David Blunkett has said he will sort out the UK's extradition laws in the wake of the terror attacks on the US.

New legislation is likely to be introduced in the next few months as part of a wider effort to undermine international terrorism.


If we scare people, and people are scared, then they'll stop going about their daily lives

Home Secretary David Blunkett
Mr Blunkett's comments came as the Conservative shadow cabinet agreed to back the government over a series of legislative moves aimed at fighting terrorism.

Ministers also moved on Wednesday to calm fears of a chemical or biological weapon attack on the United Kingdom.

Public concern over the threat has been growing in recent days following the suicide hijackings in the United States on 11 September.

The government says it accepts "people are scared" but insists there is no known threat against the UK, and that every precaution is being taken.

Mr Blunkett said a change in normal routine would be giving in to the terrorists.

The official reassurance came as Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon hinted that the looming US-led military action might be widened to targets outside Afghanistan, which is under threat for harbouring chief terrorist suspect Osama Bin Laden.

At the same time the estimated number of British citizens missing after the World Trade Center attacks has been revised down to about 200.

In a separate development, Downing Street said that Prime Minister Tony Blair was calling a special cabinet meeting for Thursday.


This is a time for national unity and also for national resolve

Oliver Letwin
A spokesman for Mr Blair insisted that the meeting was being held so that the cabinet could discuss the latest events in the current international crisis and nothing should be written into its timing.

Meanwhile the Tories indicated that they would support the government if they changed the Human Rights Act in areas where "it hinders the implementation of anti-terrorist legislation" and offered their backing for a financial crackdown on terrorist groups.

They also offered to "co-operate fully" on the introduction of Europe-wide proposals to counter terrorism including the possible creation of a pan-EU arrest warrant.

Oliver Letwin, the shadow home secretary, said: "This is a time for national unity and also for national resolve.

"It is in that spirit that we offer our full co-operation to the government in presenting this constructive set of proposals."

Attack fears

Reports of British shops being inundated with demands for gas masks and protective suits followed the grounding of crop-spraying aircraft in America.

Mr Blunkett told BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Wednesday it would not be credible for him to say there "wasn't a danger at all" from terrorists launching a biological or chemical weapon attack.

But he went on: "I just think we've got to get the balance right."

David Blunkett
Mr Blunkett said government was taking precautions
"If we scare people, and people are scared, then they'll stop going about their daily lives, our economy will be damaged, our normal social life will be damaged - that's precisely what those who have perpetrated these acts would wish."

Although he urged people to take all the precautions they could and pledged the government would do all in its power to protect the nation.

Geoff Hoon, condemning much of the "alarmist" newspaper coverage, said while "obviously" ministers were aware of a risk "there is no direct or specific threat to the United Kingdom".

Military action

As he headed for a meeting of Nato ministers in Brussels, the defence secretary confirmed military action was looming without being drawn on a timescale or the involvement of British units.

Asked if he was satisfied the evidence was there to pin the attacks on Bin Laden's organisation, Mr Hoon replied: "All of the evidence points in that direction".

"It's been looked at both in the United States and quite independently in the United Kingdom."

Emphasising there would be no "D-day landing", Mr Hoon warned: "This is not an enemy that is going to line-up and be attacked in a conventional sense."

"Therefore it is necessary to use all of the means at our disposal to deal with that kind of enemy."

Mr Hoon also revealed Britain was considering following Russia and offering aid to the anti-Taleban Northern Alliance as one of "a range of military options".

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Home Secretary David Blunkett
"If we scare people then they'll stop going about their daily lives"
Oliver Letwin, Shadow Home Secretary
and Lord Lester, Human Rights Lawyer

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26 Sep 01 | UK Politics
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