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Last Updated: Monday, 24 October 2005, 19:03 GMT 20:03 UK
Police firearms review considered
Charles Clarke
Mr Clarke said there was an 'important question' to answer
Home Secretary Charles Clarke has said he may allow Parliament to review the Metropolitan Police force's policy on officers using firearms.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission would first have to end its inquiry into the shooting of Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes, he said.

But there was an "important question" to be answered, Mr Clarke told the Parliamentary Human Rights Committee.

Mr Menezes was shot eight times at Stockwell Tube station on 22 July.

'Case for it'

The incident happened the day after failed bombings in London.

Asked about a possible review of policy, Mr Clarke said: "There is a case for this.

"I will decide how to deal with it after the IPCC report into that particular incident.

"I think there's an important question as to again reviewing our techniques for dealing with the situations and I would say that the issue of how we deal with a potential suicide bomber is a pretty serious one to be considered.

'Animal rights'

"And it's one that we will look at following the IPCC report in this particular case".

Mr Clarke also told MPs that militant animal rights campaigners could be affected by new anti-terror laws.

These would cover groups which had blown up buildings in Oxford.

Mr Clarke said he would consider ways of giving a tighter definition for laws to ban glorification and indirect incitement of terrorism.

But these were needed because of gaps in the current legislation.

"If you go and say, please will you go and bomb a tube train on the 7th of July, I believe the current law deals with that particular situation," he said.

But if somebody encouraged people to blow up Tube trains in general "that is not of itself currently incitement in the terms of the current legislation", he said.

'Being certain'

Mr Clarke told the committee he was willing to consider changes to the legislation as it was debated in Parliament so people understood what they could and could not do.

He promised to look at any proposals which could create greater legal certainty.

Mr Clarke said he did not believe it was justified to support action such as bombs on buses or attacks on military posts against certain regimes.

It was legitimate to argue for change, but this was best achieved by political action, not violence.

The spectrum of action between tearing down a post and blowing up a bus could "in some circumstances be difficult but I do not think it's as difficult as it seems", said Mr Clarke.

New court system?

The home secretary said the laws were not targeted at militant animal rights groups specifically.

But he said it was illegitimate to argue violence was justified against vivisectionists who used "violence" against animals.

The home secretary also said "there was a lot to be said" about the UK switching from its adversarial court system to a system where an investigating judge direction inquiries - as happens elsewhere in Europe.

The government was considering the idea, he said, but it would be a very major reform and was opposed by most lawyers, including some of his fellow ministers.




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