Thursday, November 22, 2007


Surely the 56 Day Detention Limit is dead in the Water?

I'm sure I wasn't the only one to yawn in disbelief when hearing in the Queen's Speech that, after all that rouble with Charles Clarke, the detention limit was to be doubled from 28 days to 56. We already know that: we have the longest period of pre charge detention limits of any of the world's developed nations(e.g. Canada, 1 day, USA 2 days, Germany 2 days) and that so far we have not had occasion to use even the 28 day limit.

When that simple Jolly Jack Tar, Admiral West of Spithead, said he 'remained to be convinced' on the Today Programme and then appeared 'convinced' after a chat with His Masters' Voice shortly afterwards, I must be in the majority who believed him first time around.

But now we see other senior voices lining up against the idea. Both the Attorney General, Baroness Scotland and the Solicitor General, Vera Baird, have made it known they are not in favour. And yesterday the Director of Public Prosecutions, Sir Ken Macdonald QC,(and 'he should know' is the phrase which comes to mind) told the Home Affairs Committee that he was 'satisfied with the position as it stands at the moment'.

It needs hardly adding that the select committee itself is 'unconvinced' also. And to cap it all, the man who approved the war on Iraq, Lord Peter Goldsmith, the former AG, came out 'strongly against an extension', having 'seen no evidence to justify going beyond 28 days'. For Gordon to persist along a path which tripped up his predecessor so embarrassingly when the only major voice in favour of the move, seems to be Sir Ian Blair, the Met Commissioner who is under such a large cloud, then he ought to realise he is keeping the wrong company and set to with damage limitation measures. Otherwise we observers from the terraces will have to conclude he has a death wish as compelling as the English soccer team.

Of course all the lawyers you name are against it - it puts at risk potential appearance fees. Far better the system in most other countries where you can be charged and then held for months or years before coming to a proper trial - all the intervening court sessions provide nice little earners for the legal profession...

"the first thing we do - let's kill all the lawyers"
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