[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Monday, 8 August 2005, 20:48 GMT 21:48 UK
Fears of 'half-baked' terror plan
Armed police
The viability of bringing treason charges will be discussed this week
Recent anti-terror plans have made the government look in a "state of nerves", a senior Labour MP has said.

John Denham, chairman of the Commons home affairs committee, said ministers had initially produced a considered response to the London bombings.

But under pressure in the past week, they had looked like they were rushing forward "half-baked" ideas, although he said some specific plans were wise.

Tony Blair has said plans he announced on Friday would go out to consultation.

His plans included extending powers to deport or exclude foreigners who encourage terrorism, perhaps through changing human rights laws.

For Muslims there, they have a duty to fight occupiers, whether they are British soldiers or American soldiers
Omar Bakri Mohammed

There could also be new powers to close mosques and automatic refusal of asylum to anybody with anything to do with terrorism.

Police and lawyers will this week meet to discuss charging some outspoken Islamist radicals with treason.

The Crown Prosecution Service's head of anti-terrorism will discuss the idea this week with Scotland Yard officers.

Downing Street says it has not instructed the CPS to consider the idea.

Announcing the new plans last week, Mr Blair said British hospitality had been abused and people should know the "rules of the game are changing".

'Shaky'

Mr Denham said he was "very disturbed indeed" by recent events.

"The last few days really give the sense that the government has got into a real state of nerves," he told BBC Radio 4's PM programme.

"It is displaying a lack of confidence in its own strategy.

"I think they have got to get a grip on it very, very quickly, stop floating half-baked ideas and get back a proper cross-party consensus on the serious measures that have to be taken."

Mr Denham said the problem was not that individual measures were necessarily wrong. He questioned whether it was wise to combine all the measures in one package.

After the bombings, the government had tried to involve everyone in deciding the new measures, said the former minister.

But he added: "Once you start making announcements in press conferences that you have not told the other parties about, you have not consulted communities about, you do run into dangers that the strategy itself looks shaky.

"And far from looking strong, you look weaker than you want to."

A Downing Street spokeswoman said Tony Blair had already argued his case.

"The prime minister set out his views on Friday and made it clear how he wants to take this forward," she said.

Treason review

Following the proposal of treason charges, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats accused the government of confusion by announcing different measures on different days.

Attorney General Lord Goldsmith and Director of Public Prosecutions Ken Macdonald have discussed action against three people.

Omar Bakri Mohammed, Abu Izzadeen and Abu Uzair are all expected to come under scrutiny.

A spokeswoman for the attorney general said it was not clear at this stage whether there was enough evidence to bring charges.

The crime of betraying one's country has long been regarded as one of the most serious of offences.

Treason carries a penalty of life imprisonment. The death penalty for the offence was abolished only in 1998.

Government officials will be looking at broadcast and published comments as well as speeches and sermons made by the trio to followers.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
See two of the Islamist radicals under scrutiny



RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific