[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 January 2007, 02:25 GMT
Third terror suspect 'on the run'
Home Secretary John Reid
Home Secretary John Reid has been under pressure in recent weeks
Another terror suspect on a control order has absconded, Home Secretary John Reid has revealed in a written statement to MPs.

The suspect - a male British national - was the third to vanish while under the orders, which impose a type of house arrest on terror suspects.

The individual absconded earlier this month, said Mr Reid.

The orders were brought in for cases where there was not enough evidence to bring suspects to trial.

The news is a further blow to the government's anti-terror policy and will increase pressure on Mr Reid, who is already under fire over other failings in his department.

Mr Reid said there were 18 control orders currently in force.

Two men - a British citizen and an Iraqi - who absconded at the end of last year are still at large, the statement confirmed.

'Direct threat'

In the latest case, the suspect absconded shortly after being served with a control order.

Far from getting a grip since John Reid took over, the Home Office has been marked by murderers walking out of open prisons and suspected terrorists escaping from control orders
David Davis, shadow home secretary

"The control order was designed to address the risk posed by an individual who had recently been radicalised and wanted to travel abroad for terrorism-related purposes.

"Obligations included a requirement to report daily to a police station, to surrender travel documents and to reside at a specified address.

"The individual is not believed to represent a direct threat to the public in the UK at this time."

'Anonymity order'

Mr Reid said public safety was the "top priority" for the police and government.

He said police were trying to track down the suspect and "an anonymity order is in place".

After consulting the police, the government is currently not seeking to overturn the order, added Mr Reid.

Lord Carlile, the Independent Reviewer of the 2005 Act, is due to report within the next few weeks on the operation of the Act during the past year.

A Home Office spokesman said: "Control orders are essential where it is not possible to prosecute individuals for terrorism-related activity and, in the case of foreign nationals, where they cannot be removed from the UK.

"However, we have always made clear that control orders were introduced as a next best alternative for dealing with suspected terrorists.

"We have sought stronger controls to deal with suspected terrorists who cannot be prosecuted, but have been prevented by Parliament and the courts."

'Ineffective'

Shadow home secretary David Davis said: "Far from getting a grip since John Reid took over, the Home Office has been marked by murderers walking out of open prisons and suspected terrorists escaping from control orders."

He said the control order legislation "has achieved the remarkable double of being both repressive and ineffective at the same time".

He called for the absconder to be named.

"Unless there are special circumstances, such as if it could prejudice another trial, this individual should now be named," said Mr Davis.

"If there is sufficient suspicion that this man is involved in terrorist activities to restrain his activities, there is sufficient suspicion to name him in the interests of protecting the public."

'Serious reservations'

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Nick Clegg said a "wholesale review" needed to take place.

"Control orders were the centrepiece of the government's anti-terrorist strategy," he said.

"There must now be a wholesale review of their effectiveness as part of the long-promised overhaul of anti-terror laws."

He added: "There have always been serious reservations of principle about the way in which control orders are imposed."


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
The use of control orders comes under close scrutiny



SEE ALSO

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



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific