Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Former MI5 director against 42 day detention

Baroness Manningham-BullerBaroness Manningham-Buller, former director of MI5, has used her maiden speech in the Lords to strongly reject the government's proposal for 42 days of pre-charge detention:

In deciding what I believe on these matters, I have weighed up the balance between the right to life — the most important civil liberty —the fact that there is no such thing as complete security and the importance of our hard-won civil liberties. Therefore, on a matter of principle, I cannot support the proposal in the Bill for pre-charge detention of 42 days.

I understand that there are different views and that these judgments are honestly reached by others. I respect those views, but I do not see on a practical basis or on a principled one that these proposals are in any way workable for the reasons already mentioned and because of the need for the suspect to be given the right to a fair trial.

Finally, I have been fortunate in my career to have dealt with national security. It has been a great privilege. Our legislation covering the Security Service refers to the protection of parliamentary democracy. I have a plea: handling national security should, as far as possible, be above party politics, as it has been for most of my career. Faced by a severe terrorist threat, we should aim to reach, after debate and discussion, a broad, cross-party consensus on the way ahead. Polarised positions are damaging to what we are all trying to achieve in preventing — I underline that — detecting and countering terrorism.

I strongly agree with her very thinly veiled position that the petty politics behind this policy is a disgrace to the Labour party.

Many other Lords share her position, including the former Lord Chancellor, Attorney-General, and chair of the Joint Intelligence Committee.

1 comment:

Glyn said...

I thought it was worth linking to the transcript of Baroness Manningham-Buller's speech at so people could see it in context to the debate.