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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 July, 2005, 10:42 GMT 11:42 UK
PM meets police and intelligence
Tony Blair
The meeting comes two weeks after the London terror attacks
Tony Blair is to hold talks with police and intelligence chiefs to establish what further powers they need in the wake of the London bombing atrocity.

The prime minister has indicated the issue of using phone intercept evidence in court will be discussed.

The meeting comes exactly two weeks after 52 people plus four bombers died in attacks on three trains and a bus.

Meanwhile, Pakistan is denying British newspaper reports over the supposed arrest of Haroon Rashid Aswad.

A number of newspapers reported the British Muslim had been held during raids on religious schools in Lahore.

Doubt has also been cast over the allegations that he entered Britain and left again shortly before the London bombings.

Discussions of tactics to prevent future attacks will dominate Mr Blair's agenda on Thursday.

A key issue is phone tap evidence, with the UK one of the few Western nations not to allow its admission in court.

Answering a question from Conservative leader Michael Howard at Wednesday's Prime Minister's Questions, the prime minister said he was happy to consider the idea.

Matter of principle?

"My own view has always been that if we possibly can use intercept evidence, we should because of the obvious value it can provide in certain cases," he told MPs.

"The difficulty is that up to now we have been advised by the security services that the disadvantages outweigh the benefits.

You need people with ethnic backgrounds to conduct the surveillance operations
Michael Flint
Ex-MI5 officer

"However, I think in the light of what has happened, it is obviously sensible to go back and consult them again."

He added that as a "matter of principle" he would prefer to have the use of intercept evidence in court proceedings available.

Intelligence officers and senior policemen have tended to be opposed to the use of phone tap evidence in court, fearing that secret methods could be exposed.

Former M15 officer Michael Flint told BBC News the security services are not equipped to cope with the new kind of threat.

"You need people with ethnic backgrounds to conduct the surveillance operations. The people that they had before, white young males and females, would simply stand out."

He said in the four or five years of the current raised threat there had not been time to build up close links with intelligence services in the Middle East and South Asia.

Professor Anthony Glees, director of Brunel University's Centre for Intelligence and Security Services, said intelligence officers needed to return to "elementary tasks" like monitoring subversion, and other "Cold War tactics".

Mr Blair has also said he wants an international conference about issues arising from Islamic extremism.

He told MPs: "Though the terrorists will use all sorts of issues to justify what they do, the roots of it do go deep, they are often not found in this country alone therefore international action is also necessary."

'Indirect incitement'

On Wednesday Home Secretary Charles Clarke revealed he has asked the Home Office, Foreign Office and the intelligence agencies to establish a full database of extremists.

Anyone wanting to enter the UK would be checked against the list - and if they are on it they may be refused permission to enter the country.

In a statement on the aftermath of the London bombing, Mr Clarke also said he planned a new offence of "indirect incitement to terrorism", to add to the current offence of direct incitement.

He said it "targets those who, while not directly inciting, glorify and condone terrorist acts knowing full well that the effect on their listeners will be to encourage them to turn to terrorism".

Mr Clarke told MPs he wanted to apply more widely the home secretary's powers to exclude an individual from the UK if their presence is deemed "not conducive to the public interest".

"I intend to draw up a list of unacceptable behaviours which would fall into this - for example preaching, running websites or writing articles which are intended to foment or provoke terrorism."

The government has also announced that task force to tackle Islamic extremism "head on" is being set up in the wake of the bombings.

On Thursday, victims of the London attacks will be remembered at the British Medical Association in Tavistock Square - where a bus was blown up, killing 14 people.

A service will take place in the courtyard of the BMA's headquarters where many of the injured people were treated.


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