Control Orders: Solicitors’ Evidence before the Joint Committee on Human Rights, February 3, 2010

18.2.10

The Houses of ParliamentOn February 3, 2010, the Joint Committee on Human Rights, comprising members of the House of Commons and the House of Lords, met to hear oral evidence on “Counter-Terrorism Policy and Human Rights: Control Orders” from two solicitors representing control order detainees, and three Special Advocates representing the detainees during discussions of secret evidence in court. The hearing took place two days after Lord Carlile, the government’s independent reviewer of terrorism legislation, issued his fifth report on the use of control orders (PDF), concluding that “The control order system remains necessary, but only for a small number of cases where robust information is available to the effect that the suspect individual presents a considerable risk to national security, and conventional prosecution is not realistic.”

In this first of two articles reproducing the oral evidence, which was originally made available here, Gareth Peirce and Sean Mcloughlin described life under control orders, responded to questions about whether they had “confidence in Lord Carlile as an independent adjudicator,” and explained how little has changed in the system since the Law Lords ruled last June, in the case of AF and others, that imposing control orders breaches Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which guarantees the right to a fair trial, because a suspect held under a control order is not given “sufficient information about the allegations against him to enable him to give effective instructions to the special advocate assigned to him.”

Oral Evidence
Taken before the Joint Committee on Human Rights on Wednesday 3 February 2010

Members present:
Mr Andrew Dismore, in the Chair
Bowness, L
Dubs, L
Falkner of Margravine, B
Onslow, E
Dr Evan Harris
Fiona Mactaggart
Mr Virendra Sharma

Witnesses: Ms Gareth Peirce, Solicitor, Birnberg Peirce, and Mr Sean Mcloughlin, Solicitor, The Rights Partnership, gave evidence.

Q1 Chairman: Good afternoon, everybody. This is an evidence session of the Joint Select Committee on Human Rights looking at Counter‑terrorism Policy on Human Rights, and this session is looking at the question of control orders in advance of the control order renewal debate, which will be taking place I understand probably towards the end of the month. We are joined for our first panel by Gareth Peirce, solicitor at Birnberg Peirce, with extensive experience of acting in terrorism cases, who has represented a number of individuals subject to control orders, and Sean Mcloughlin, who is a solicitor at The Rights Partnership in Birmingham, who has also represented individuals subject to control orders. We would like to start by trying to get a feel for what it is like for somebody who is subject to control orders, so perhaps you could give us some practical examples of the sorts of difficulties that a controlee faces as a result of being under a control order?

Ms Peirce: Probably the primary sensation is of despair and of feeling utterly impotent in a situation to contest it, to cope with it, and to understand the implications, because it descends on the person and usually the family overnight and unexpectedly. To simply illustrate the extent of the despair, there was at one time in Belmarsh Prison in the healthcare section three men whom I represented, all of whom had made serious attempts on their lives, all under control orders, all of them imprisoned because they were in breach — a criminal offence — of the control order; all of whose wives had left them temporarily or permanently, and that statistic woke us up to the enormity, if we needed waking up, of the effect. It affects not merely the man — it has always been men up to this point — but his wife if he is married and his children, all of whom are subject to the same conditions. They are all debarred from having visitors, if that is a condition, unless they are cleared; there are prohibitions on the use of phones; an inhibition on arrangements for family meetings; and often what strikes particularly at the heart of those with anything from seven-year old children up is the restriction on having a computer or the internet in their house, because now, in this country, much of the children’s curriculum is based on the use of the internet, so there are repeated situations where children have been in trouble at school because they — bright, academically high achieving children — have fallen by the wayside and been in trouble despite repeated requests to have access for the children, even in one case where the man could not read or write in English and was completely computer illiterate. So, in summary, the impact can be, and usually is, colossal on the person himself and his family.

Mr Mcloughlin: I echo Gareth’s comments. The impact is massive on the whole family. One of the other aspects is that people under control orders are often told where they have to live. My clients came out of deportation proceedings. I am an immigration lawyer so I act for a number of individuals in deportation proceedings, and when those deportation proceedings were no longer sustainable and the government lost the challenge, the individuals placed on control orders, and the families, have to up sticks and move to other areas, and that of course involves taking the children from schools, friends and communities, and that has had a massive impact certainly for my clients. For example, one client had children who were at a private school in Birmingham and doing very well there, supported by a charity who paid for the fees, but in order for them to be reunited and cohabit together as a family they had to move elsewhere and that meant the children leaving that school, but it applies to all the families and all the clients I have had. The impact is horrendous and, of course, is so difficult for people to understand because of the scheme that people are put under control orders and are not told why in any great detail, and then, of course, comes the challenge and our position trying to represent people who are in this predicament. But I should emphasise the daily impact on the clients and their family members is something which affects them every single day in so many different ways, and we have to deal with that. Our offices are so very busy because every time a client wants to go outside the boundary perhaps to visit us for an appointment, or to do something like attend a hospital appointment, everything has to be done by correspondence to get approval from the Secretary of State and from the Home Office, and they find that incredibly frustrating. Perhaps we will talk a little bit later about those issues and how problematic even those issues are for us.

Q2 Chairman: When we look at the independent review of Lord Carlile and all the Government statements they say that account is taken of the impact on the controlee and the family of the control order itself. Does that correspond with your experience?

Mr Mcloughlin: No, it does not. The control order is made and everything else is as a consequence of that, so in our experience in dealing with the issues that arise for our clients and their family members it seems that these things are just managed as a result of the control order being made; they do not seem to feed into whether a control order should be made. These issues seem to be secondary, if not appearing further down the list, but they are real problems for our clients and their families.

Ms Peirce: I think the box gets ticked where you have taken [the impact] into account, but what may [not] have been sent may have been extensive psychiatric reports about the whole family, child psychology reports, reports of how children are bed‑wetting, reports of how well‑behaved children become severely disturbed at school. And there is a further growing use of a form of internal exile, which Sean referred to, and that is not just in relation to people who are formally the subject of immigration detention. It is being applied to British citizens who have grown up, for instance, in east London all their lives, whose grandparents are there, whose wife’s grandparents are there, who are suddenly parachuted into a place in Nottinghamshire, in Gloucestershire, where the man is told from there on in he has to live there, that it is a modification of his control order, and, to be frank, the women in this are treated with complete contempt. It is as if they do not exist. The man is told: “Your wife, if she works, can find another job; she can join you if she wants to or she can stay in east London. We know that you can find schools for the children in the area”, and the effect of this on a number of families is quite extraordinary. The Home Office in its report talked about managing the Muslim community and reassuring them. This may affect only a small group of people but in terms of its contribution to what one might call the folklore of injustice it is colossal. It is not something that other people in the community are in ignorance of. It is highlighted because of the perception of the extent of the injustice, so it has a wide effect.

Q3 Chairman: Is it the norm for people to be moved to another location altogether, or are they the exceptions? You have mentioned two cases. We know at the moment, for example, there are twelve control orders extant. Would you have any idea how many of those twelve have resulted in removal to another part of the country?

Ms Peirce: I am thinking of five recently where there have either been removals or a notification of an immediate removal which has been challenged, but in the way that the courts are now dealing with it there has to be the modification before the challenge can be made, so an attempt to obtain an injunction in anticipation, the courts have said was not an appropriate way to deal with it.

Q4 Earl of Onslow: Lady Kennedy told me the other day she was representing somebody and she used those words “internal exile”, which is something normally only applied to the Romanov Tzars in Russia, and we are the only country that seems to be copying the Romanov Tzars in internal exile. Can you tell me how that court case went, whether there was a modification and whether the courts came out and said, “Up with this we will not put”?

Ms Peirce: I know the case you are referring to and in the end the court did not allow that person to be moved. It was a particularly extreme case where the person concerned had an exceptional and life‑threatening medical condition, and arguments were accepted that he and his wife needed to be within immediate range of their consultant treating doctors. But for that he might well — I think he would — have been moved to a very long distance away from the place where he had grown up.

Q5 Chairman: Coming on to some of the practical problems from your point of view as representatives of controlees, can you describe some of the difficulties you have experienced both in general terms of representation, in making appointments, for instance, and also specifically because of closed material?

Mr Mcloughlin: It is not rocket science, and the Committee is fully aware of how these things work. The evidence we get justifying the control order is limited, and for us to take instructions from a client to address the assertions is very difficult, and for that client to be able to respond in any meaningful way. In essence, his evidence is given in a vacuum, because he does not know quite a lot of the case that is being alleged against him. Equally, the client will be suspicious of how any information he gives may be used, and clearly if you are trying to challenge an allegation against you, the allegation needs to be made to you. That is not, as I say, rocket science, and it obviously builds the frustration for the clients and is frustrating for representatives such as ourselves trying to represent the client with limited information.

Ms Peirce: I think the process is so prolonged there is not an immediate remedy. Because of slow service of evidence, if it is a civil proceeding, then there is the interjection of special advocates, secret hearings — it is an extraordinarily prolonged process. There have been victories won in the courts but the interminable back and forth, back to the High Court after the House of Lords has decided in your favour, in the end breeds bleak cynicism, that whatever happens, the goalposts will be moved. One man in particular was detained for three and a half years under the Anti‑Terrorism Crime and Security Act, won in the House of Lords once, won in the House of Lords twice on the basis that evidence derived from torture could not be used in his case, won in the European Court of Human Rights on the basis, relevant to this, that he had never had anything disclosed to him that was sufficient to provide due process; then was on a control order, which is still in being today on the same evidence, the House of Lords having decided it was insufficient. That is a very long time to have won successive legal victories and yet remain in that position, and it does nothing to reassure those who are affected that the law, or the lawyers, can help them at all.

Mr Mcloughlin: Can I just add that a client of mine had his control order quashed because the Secretary of State was misled on the evidence presented when the control order was made, and Mr Justice Mitting quashed that control order. Two days or so before the judgment was handed down the Home Office made another control order, so for him he had a victory on the grave basis that the Secretary was misled as to the evidence, and yet he finds himself in exactly the same position, even though he succeeded, and life did not change for him. The same control order was made, the same conditions applied, and he then has to fight that second control order, again through the same proceedings. I should just add that his case was to be heard just after AF in the House of Lords, and so shortly before his hearing his record was revoked. Nevertheless, he spent all of that time having won once ‑‑

Q6 Chairman: How long was he under the control order, in total, from start to finish?

Mr Mcloughlin: I think it was April ’08 and then the second control order was revoked in about June ’09.

Q7 Chairman: So for 15 months or so he was under a control order?

Mr Mcloughlin: Yes, and he was none the wiser as to why he was on a control order, so that sense of frustration, which we mentioned in the opening, continues.

Q8 Chairman: Lord Carlile in his report says he has received no complaints from controlees or their lawyers about the procedures not working satisfactorily. Is that right? Have you not complained?

Ms Peirce: I do not think I have complained to Lord Carlile. I do not share my reasons for that with this Committee. We complain daily in the courts, where we are meant to be complaining; we complain to the Treasury solicitors; we complain to the Home Office; we in every way seek to raise the immediate circumstances.

Mr Mcloughlin: Can I add that in terms of the modification appeals, and I read Lord Carlile’s comments about the lack of complaints to him, Lord Carlile did visit the clients I acted for on control orders, but one of the clients made an application for various conditions of his control orders to be varied, to include attending a college course and having a particular dentist where his wife and children were registered just outside his boundary, and it was not a great distance. But all of these requests were refused, so we lodged an appeal to bring it before the court and the appeal was lodged, I recall, in February of last year and the court heard the case in July. Now, of course, because the procedures are so prolonged in terms of the Special Advocates being involved and hearings, he waited so many months for that hearing to come up to have those issues adjudicated upon that, of course, the college course was done and dusted and he presumably found another dentist in the interim, so the court procedures are not swift and that is a major failing.

Q9 Chairman: Have you made a complaint to Lord Carlile?

Mr Mcloughlin: No. I have not spoken to Lord Carlile, nor has he spoken to me.

Q10 Chairman: I would like to come back to Gareth, because she left her coat tail trailing a bit there. Is the problem here you have no confidence in Lord Carlile as an independent adjudicator? Basically has he been in the job too long?

Ms Peirce: I think at the beginning, a long time ago, when the Anti‑Terrorism Crime and Security Act came into force Lord Carlile was in appointment then, newly in appointment, I think, but there was also a Privy Council Committee in parallel, and this is not a comment on Lord Carlile, but I think it is inappropriate perhaps for one person to have a sustained sole application after the Privy Council has put in a trenchant criticism of the Anti‑Terrorism Crime and Security Act — very thoughtful and they came to SIAC hearings and so on — but then the Government abolished their existence in that supervisory role, so that is said regardless of Lord Carlile as an individual.

Mr Mcloughlin: I am too busy getting on with my daily practice really to worry about who is monitoring it. It does not change the situation. All my clients’ control orders have been revoked, so it is not really for me to make waves about who is reviewing it. I represent my clients to the best of my ability.

Q11 Chairman: The reason I raise it is that one of the concerns I have is that if somebody does such a very important and sensitive job for so long, inevitably they can lose some of their objectivity, because they are dealing with those same issues and the same people in the security services all the time, and I just wondered if such objectivity after such a long period of time may have worn a little thin.

Ms Peirce: I think there is a history of perhaps frank but unfortunate assessments, beginning with those who were interned [from December 2001, when suspects were imprisoned without charge or trial, mainly in Belmarsh, until the Law Lords ruled in December 2004 that this was in contravention of the Human Rights Act], in which Lord Carlile had stated: “I have seen everything that is in the secret evidence, I am completely satisfied the Home Secretary appropriately certificated the individual”, even in cases where SIAC itself came to an opposite view, in cases where ultimately the House of Lords condemned the process twice, where the European Court said, “This was utterly inadequate information”. And now we are into a different regime of control orders and Lord Carlile is again making assessments of the evidence and giving a view as to whether they are justified, and those who are on the receiving end of that simply see that as an extension of an unfairness when they do not know the position.

Q12 Baroness Falkner of Margravine: What I would like to hear from you is, leaving aside the person Lord Carlile, whether you think that there is a danger, in areas where public information is not available, that any individual who does that job might tend to “go native” after a period of time? In other sensitive areas of life you have term limits. Do you think that a term limit would be a good idea in terms of an independent reviewer? That somebody coming every few years fresh to the role with the accumulation of new findings behind them might be more beneficial in a role than someone who has been doing it for quite long?

Ms Peirce: One of the particular vices here is the secret nature of the evidence; the second is the arbitrariness of the decision, and the third is that, to the rest of us and to the person involved, it seems like a sledgehammer to crack a nut. Simply because we represent individuals to the best of our ability does not mean that we are necessarily utterly naive about what is alleged, and we can see clearly in case after case it is inappropriate, but Lord Carlile gives a further veneer to the Government’s — in our view — exercise of arbitrary measures.

Q13 Baroness Falkner of Margravine: Can we refer to him as the “independent reviewer” rather than in person? Would any independent reviewer fall into that trap, do you think?

Ms Peirce: I think it has become more significant. There was always an independent reviewer of terrorism legislation. It was Lord Lloyd and I have forgotten who his predecessor was, and they were very much looking in a much more restricted way at the ways in which the legislation itself was working. This has become far more significant. This is effectively social control of mechanisms that appear to us incredibly petty on a daily basis, petty interferences that seem to have nothing to do with national security, whether a person comes to our office and they walk on the right side of the street to get there or not, and our work is dealing with these restrictions that seem inappropriate. It has to be a wider spread of personnel reviewing it, I think. The ability to have a body that is independent, maybe bringing in psychiatrists or social workers who have an extended understanding of social control.

Q14 Earl of Onslow: Having read your essay in the London Book Review, I must admit I came out of it feeling faintly sick about some of the things you told me about. I get the impression from what you just said that what is happening is that a game of cat and mouse is being played, and if somebody wins a victory it is not even pyrrhic. It goes into the damage done and, I thought very accurately, the folklore. I also got the impression that you are saying that Lord Carlile possibly clothes the nakedness of government. I am interested that you told me — which I did not know and possibly should have done — that Lord Lloyd of Berwick was the previous reviewer, and I trust Lord Lloyd of Berwick with my right arm, because he understands the grandeur of the liberty of the subject, which is something which appeals to me. I was quite shocked by Lord Carlile voting for 42 days, for instance —

Baroness Falkner of Margravine: I do not think he voted. He spoke for, but did not vote.

Q15 Earl of Onslow: The question I am going to ask — and I have almost answered it myself — is this. In practice, have any of the court decisions upholding controlees’ arguments helped to make the process fairer from the controlees’ point of view?

Ms Peirce: In theory, the requirement that there be an irreducible minimum of information is, of course, important, but even so you are left with a very impoverished procedure for such a restriction on a person’s life which consumes and takes over, and therefore the victories in the courts are on procedural issues — critically important — not on the impact. In fact, however strong the arguments and the evidence that one has that this is destroying someone, he is going to kill himself, his life is in danger, those arguments do not win in the courts as being disproportionate to the measures and the reasons given for them. So in that sense very little is felt by the person on the receiving end.

Q16 Earl of Onslow: I think I read in these papers about somebody who is deprived of money where even the children had to account for the price and cost of an apple. Was that in here?

Ms Peirce: Yes, but that is a different form of legislation. It is the assets freezing legislation.

Chairman: We are not dealing with that today.

Q17 Earl of Onslow: I am sorry. The reason I brought it up was it struck me as being a pretty repellent way of behaving.

Ms Peirce: It is pretty repellent. The Supreme Court struck it down a couple of days ago but I understand new legislation is being rushed forward.

Q18 Earl of Onslow: To re‑introduce it?

Ms Peirce: I believe so.

Q19 Earl of Onslow: What difference has the House of Lords decision in AF made in practice?

Ms Peirce: In all cases in which it applied, the arguments are still going on in court in different ways. Some control orders have been revoked; some have been quashed. The Home Office says quashing should not apply because that has a completely retrospective effect, which means they were always unlawful, so there is still further argument. Some of those people are still under control orders because the Home Office has sought a different basis on which to impose them.

Q20 Earl of Onslow: So you are back to the cat and mouse game again?

Ms Peirce: We are entirely in the same game.

Mr Mcloughlin: All of the control orders on the three clients that I had have now been revoked; one last month which was the last one, so in that sense, for my part, it has had an impact. Whether the Home Office will sit in front of the Committee and say it was because of AF that they revoked them, or some other exit strategy that they were always planning towards, I do not know.

Q21 Earl of Onslow: Is the system of control orders sustainable following the decision of the House of Lords in AF? Is the whole system of control orders on its last legs, or should it be?

Ms Peirce: It was abusive legislation stampeded through Parliament in a rush in February/March 2005 when internment came to an end. It was deployed for that bunch of foreign nationals only. It has been subject to sustained intellectual attack primarily on procedural grounds and, yes, it is on the rocks, but the Home Office clings to the wreckage and it will construct some other vessel out of it, or it will attempt to.

Q22 Chairman: That begs this question. You said earlier on that you are not naïve, and we may be dealing with some dangerous people, we may not. What is the alternative to control orders? We know we cannot lock them up indefinitely because that was a Belmarsh decision; we know we cannot, if they are foreign nationals, remove them if they are going to face torture and if they are UK nationals we obviously cannot remove them anyway. What is the alternative from a public safety point of view to control orders?

Ms Peirce: The primary weapon, if one calls it that, would simply be the common sense approach to go to a person and say: “We suspect that you are involved in something that might be linked to terrorist activity; we are telling you this is what we suspect; you will appreciate that we are going to be keeping our eye on you; perhaps you would like to talk about it, let’s talk”, and if you have a reasonable suspicion you arrest the person and question them, and the police are entitled to do that. Even if you do not have evidence that you ultimately can use in court, you can detain someone for the purpose of questioning. The interesting aspect of this is almost none of these men has ever been questioned or spoken to, and I believe many of them would welcome it and say: “That is exactly what we would have liked, that someone would have come to us”, and surely, if you are tipped off that you are under suspicion, you will be very careful about it. The other point I perhaps should mention, which has not to the best of my knowledge happened in all the cases at all, is that there is a concern in some cases that it is a kind of coercion. More than one person has reported being told: “You know, you could make all of this go away if you co‑operated and gave information”, and I know specifically and directly from one such encounter on which I was called upon to be involved that it was very much: “We want something, you can give it, and then the control order can go away”, and that is coercive and improper use.

Q23 Chairman: Completely improper, if that is the case. Presumably from what you are saying, then, you would see in the extreme case where you could not prosecute surveillance as being the alternative?

Ms Peirce: Surveillance but simultaneously with informing someone.

Q24 Chairman: Of course, yes. I am assuming that that happened and there were still suspicions after all of that. Would surveillance be an alternative in your view?

Ms Peirce: Yes. In fact, surveillance, to be blunt, is exercised on these people, and if someone strays outside the boundary or breaches a condition, the term has been used on arrest: “Gotcha”.

Mr Mcloughlin: In paragraph 51 of Lord Carlile’s report he says that control orders are a targeted tool of last resort used to plug what is perceived to be a gap in the absence of viable alternatives. For my part that is a political illusion because there is no hiatus between guilty and innocent, and that is where we, as lawyers, come from. But, as I say, I am an immigration lawyer and Gareth is much more experienced in criminal law than me, so surveillance is the answer in my view, and I note from the Secretary of State’s memo in the final paragraph, paragraph 85, that the cost issues are set out, and it says that the control order regime has cost £10.8 million to administer, with legal costs associated with that process of over £8 million. If you cut out the lawyers then the spend is £3 million on whatever it is that they do, and surely if that money can be spent, or I suspect less money can be spent, on surveillance, then, as Gareth says, people know they are under surveillance, and it has the same effect and does not create this political problem and imposition. Many people are concerned about the whole regime. I penned some figures, and I am not an accountant, but if you have 12 control orders outstanding and you have three officers or people on 8‑hour shifts monitoring these people full‑time, just following them round like a lost dog, then you need 36 staff and even if you pay them £50,000 a year, which I am sure will raise an eyebrow or two, that is around £2 million a year, so if you have two people following them it will be around £4 million, and obviously £3 million is the spend at the moment excluding legal costs. I do not know if those figures mean anything at all, but the point is that huge amounts of money at the time are being thrown at the legal issues, and just under 50 control orders have been made with great political debate on these issues, and I think that it is a hammer to crack a nut, and there are other ways. Can I just say that the Secretary of State in his conclusion, paragraph 85, said that surveillance would be considerably more expensive, but he does not give any figures or explain how or why that might be. There are many things I do not know about in that arena, of course, but that information could at least inform the Committee as to whether surveillance is a possible alternative.

Q25 Chairman: You are ahead of me, because that was the next point I was going to put to you and, in fact, I raised this with the Prime Minister yesterday in the Liaison Committee, suggesting that the amount spent on lawyers could be better spent on police officers.

Mr Mcloughlin: Absolutely.

Q26 Chairman: And, of course, that £8 million you refer to is just the cost to the Home Office of defending the cases brought, where the meter is still running.

Mr Mcloughlin: In that case then there are the Home Office costs. Then there are all the legal aid costs involved and the court costs, which must be significant, with all of the judicial challenges through the administrative court, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court, so the spend must be huge and maybe the Committee would be interested to find out what the overall spend is.

Q27 Chairman: We have been trying to.

Mr Mcloughlin: Good luck.

Q28 Chairman: We have not got the answers yet, but we have been trying to find out. Can I go back to reviewing the material? Did the Home Secretary carry out a thorough review of all material relied on for the existing control orders to ascertain whether they needed to have further disclosure after the AF case?

Mr Mcloughlin: You are asking if the Secretary of State’s response deals with everything?

Q29 Chairman: Yes.

Mr Mcloughlin: For my part it says what I expected it to say. One thing I do take issue with is the reliance on the fact that there is rigorous judicial scrutiny of the control order regime through the challenges. That is, I am afraid, misleading to the lay reader perhaps, because as a lawyer representing people in these proceedings you have got one arm tied behind your back, and special advocates, whom you will hear from later, in my view have two arms tied behind their backs. Although the court can do everything within their remit it does not mean objectively that the scrutiny is rigorous, because the whole case is premised on evidence we do not see and we cannot meet.

Q30 Chairman: Are you getting anything more disclosed in practice?

Ms Peirce: No.

Mr Mcloughlin: I will be corrected, but I do not think I ever have had.

Q31 Chairman: Gareth has given us a very clear answer to that, unqualified.

Mr Mcloughlin: The special advocates will correct me if I am wrong, but I do not recall getting anything of any substance through the procedures which allow the special advocates to assess the material and try and argue that X, Y and Z should be made available to the open lawyers, as we are now called. We used to be called lawyers; now we are called open lawyers, and closed lawyers behind us. Nothing of any substance has come from that process and, whilst they will do their best, the special advocates, it is meaningless.

Q32 Chairman: It is probably a better question to put to them. I think we have finished our questions. Is there anything you want to add to anything you have said to us?

Ms Peirce: No, thank you.

Mr Mcloughlin: No, thank you.

Earl of Onslow: Again, going back to your book and article, I was rather struck by the saying of the prophet Mohammed, and I wrote it down: “Fight the unbelievers with your wealth, yourselves and your tongues”. Can you tell me what is the difference between that and the Christian hymn, “Fight the Good Fight with All Thy Might?”

Chairman: I do not think that is a question for the witnesses.

Earl of Onslow: It is. If people are attacking people for saying that, you should attack Christians for saying exactly the same thing.

Chairman: I think that is a debating point, not one for the witnesses. Thank you very much.

Andy Worthington is the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK). To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to my RSS feed (and I can also be found on Facebook and Twitter). Also see my definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, updated in January 2010, details about the new documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (co-directed by Polly Nash and Andy Worthington, and launched in October 2009), and, if you appreciate my work, feel free to make a donation.

For other articles dealing with Belmarsh, control orders, deportation bail, deportations and extraditions, see Deals with dictators undermined by British request for return of five Guantánamo detainees (August 2007), Britain’s Guantánamo: the troubling tale of Tunisian Belmarsh detainee Hedi Boudhiba, extradited, cleared and abandoned in Spain (August 2007), Guantánamo as house arrest: Britain’s law lords capitulate on control orders (November 2007), The Guantánamo Britons and Spain’s dubious extradition request (December 2007), Britain’s Guantánamo: control orders renewed, as one suspect is freed (February 2008), Spanish drop “inhuman” extradition request for Guantánamo Britons (March 2008), UK government deports 60 Iraqi Kurds; no one notices (March 2008), Repatriation as Russian Roulette: Will the Two Algerians Freed from Guantánamo Be Treated Fairly? (July 2008), Abu Qatada: Law Lords and Government Endorse Torture (February 2009), Ex-Guantánamo prisoner refused entry into UK, held in deportation centre (February 2009), Home Secretary ignores Court decision, kidnaps bailed men and imprisons them in Belmarsh (February 2009), Britain’s insane secret terror evidence (March 2009), Torture taints all our lives (published in the Guardian’s Comment is free), Britain’s Guantánamo: Calling For An End To Secret Evidence, Five Stories From Britain’s Guantánamo: (1) Detainee Y, Five Stories From Britain’s Guantánamo: (2) Detainee BB, Five Stories From Britain’s Guantánamo: (3) Detainee U, Five Stories From Britain’s Guantánamo: (4) Hussain Al-Samamara, Five Stories From Britain’s Guantánamo: (5) Detainee Z, Britain’s Guantánamo: Fact or Fiction? and URGENT APPEAL on British terror laws: Get your MP to support Diane Abbott’s Early Day Motion on the use of secret evidence (all April 2009), and Taking liberties with our justice system and Death in Libya, betrayal in the West (both for the Guardian), Law Lords Condemn UK’s Use of Secret Evidence And Control Orders (June 2009), Miliband Shows Leadership, Reveals Nothing About Torture To Parliamentary Committee (June 2009), Britain’s Torture Troubles: What Tony Blair Knew (June 2009), Seven years of madness: the harrowing tale of Mahmoud Abu Rideh and Britain’s anti-terror laws, Would you be able to cope?: Letters by the children of control order detainee Mahmoud Abu Rideh, Control order detainee Mahmoud Abu Rideh to be allowed to leave the UK (all June 2009), Testing control orders and Dismantle the secret state (for the Guardian), UK government issues travel document to control order detainee Mahmoud Abu Rideh after horrific suicide attempt (July 2009), Secret evidence in the case of the North West 10 “terror suspects” (August 2009), Letting go of control orders (for the Guardian, September 2009), Another Blow To Britain’s Crumbling Control Order Regime (September 2009), UK Judge Approves Use of Secret Evidence in Guantánamo Case (November 2009), Calling Time On The Use Of Secret Evidence In The UK (December 2009), Compensation for control orders is a distraction (for the Guardian, January 2010), Control Orders Take Another Blow: Libyan Cartoonist Freed (Detainee DD) (January 2010).

5 Responses

  1. Jean Louise Dell'Aquila says...

    Please send me David Miliband’s email address. It was sent in email but I do not find that email in my box. I apologize for not responding in a more timely manner but my time is subject to forfeiture !!

  2. Andy Worthington says...

  3. Madeleine Swords says...

    Romanov Tzars in Russia? or Fascism and the Jews in Germany…children then the disabled the elderly…..
    McCarthyism in the USA-The Politically motivated practice of making accusations of Disloyalty Subversion or Treason…
    (HenryVlll used this to good effect instead of divorce..)
    “WITHOUT PROPER REGARD FOR EVIDENCE”
    It seems we have gone a step further,
    WITHOUT PROPER REGARD FOR CHARGE? a farce
    what are we doing? the law is about evidence proof justice
    In Psychiatric terms this is Paranoia, we cant explain the behaviour because it’s “their” behaviour…the paranoid person was that Blair? who did this to us? teaching law in Harvard or Yale! we should talk about oil, and war as an industry not WMD? they have changed the subject. we should vote out the legal system when it ceases to have meaning? no charge no evidence no reality, meantime we waste time and money on the above which is meaningless….and wait for them to come for us……

  4. Hajra Khan says...

    I have a friend who is subjuct to a control order and whose family have suffered all of the issues tackled in your report. I find it astounding and absurd that the British legal system cannot overthrow such an outrageously unfair,medeivl and abuseive practice.
    The disclosed evidence against him is so transparently false and desperate and the secret evidence an abuse of the law. The conditions of his control order keep changing, he has been moved out of London, back to London, threatened with another move and is subsequently on remand in Wentworth. However there is no clear reason for him to be held in Wentworth and what’s even more extraordinary, he has been told he is under a his control order in prison! He is under 23hr lockdown, is denied all visitors apart from his wife and mother and does not know what the next step is for him. On top of this The courts put a press ban on him, but it doesn’t stop the rest of us talking.
    Is anyone willing to publicise this man and his familys suffering and seroius mistreatment at the hands of those who adminsiter the Anti Terror laws? Please help we are desperate.

  5. Human Rights: ‘Control Orders’ « human rights says...

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, filmmaker, photographer and Guantanamo expert
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