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Last Updated: Saturday, 12 March 2005, 14:18 GMT
Anti-terrorism law row rumbles on
A high security convoy leaves Belmarsh
Five of the suspects were released from Belmarsh prison
Ten terror suspects have been subjected to interim control orders as the war of words over the battle to introduce the new anti-terrorism powers continues.

Leader of the Commons Peter Hain said Michael Howard's stance on the measures had put the security of the UK at risk.

But Tory co-party chairman Liam Fox said PM Tony Blair had shown he was "arrogant and out of touch".

The home secretary signed the orders after a marathon debate on the powers which peers finally approved on Friday.

'Proportionate'

The political stalemate over the Prevention of Terrorism Act only ended when the prime minister promised to let MPs review the law in one year.

Under the new law, the interim orders, which are thought to be similar to the bail conditions already imposed on the suspects, will have to be referred to a judge for confirmation within seven days.

In the long term the control orders, particularly those which restrict liberty, will increasingly come under criticism
Dominic Grieve
Shadow attorney general

They will then be the subject of a full High Court hearing.

On Friday, a Home Office spokesman said the orders would be "proportionate" and would "assist us in combating a threat that remains real and serious".

BBC Home Affairs correspondent Margaret Gilmore said the orders would include a ban on buying communications equipment and using the internet and mobile phones.

Suicide bombers

There would also be "strong" restrictions on who the 10 men can meet.

She said one of the 10, Abu Qatada, was also banned from preaching because, it is alleged, his sermons have been used by people training suicide bombers.

Mr Hain told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "This bill is now in a position which balances individual liberty with the necessity to control very dangerous terrorists."

He accused Tory leader Michael Howard of putting national security at risk by attacking the bill without having a "coherent alternative".

Shadow attorney general Dominic Grieve said dealing with the terror threat would "dominate politics over the next decade".

"In the long term the control orders, particularly those which restrict liberty, will increasingly come under criticism," he added.

'Scandal'

Dr Fox rejected suggestions his party had wanted to "water down" the home secretary's powers.

He told Today: "One of the things that we objected to was that these terrorists were not behind bars or not excluded from this country altogether."

Meanwhile, Lib Dem president Simon Hughes said the party will continue to oppose the bill and would vote to repeal it in the next parliament.

Addressing the party's Welsh Spring conference in Cardiff, he said: "This bill came to parliament with two days in total for all our normal process of consultation. It was an absolute scandal of a process."

Political wrangling over the orders finally ended on Friday, three days before the current Anti-Terrorism, Crime & Security Act 2001 was due to expire.

House arrest

During the long political "ping-pong", peers had refused to give up amendments that would put a 12-month time limit on the bill and place a higher standard of proof on suspects.

Instead, the bill bounced between the two houses four times as the two sides failed to reach agreement.

As the debate raged, one suspect was freed by a Special Immigration Appeals Commission on Thursday and another, being held under house arrest, had his conditions relaxed.

The other eight men were released on bail from London's Belmarsh prison and Broadmoor secure mental hospital on Friday.


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