Statement by the Home Secretary

STATEMENT BY HOME SECRETARY, 1 February 2005  – Detainee known as “C”

On 18 December 2001, an individual known as “C” was certified under Section 21 of the Anti-terrorism Crime and Security (ATCS) Act as a suspected international terrorist. “C” appealed to the Special Immigration Appeal Commission (SIAC) against this decision.  On 29 October 2003 SIAC upheld the decision to certify “C”.  SIAC has also reviewed the certificate, as they are legally obliged to do, as close to six months after the handing down of their original determination.  On 2 July, SIAC again upheld the decision to certify.

Assurances have been given to the House of Commons that cases are kept under constant review and as part of this process, I concluded, on the basis of all the information available to me, that the weight of evidence in relation to C at the current time does not justify the continuance of the certificate. I therefore decided to revoke the certificate with immediate effect.

As Home Secretary it is my responsibility to find a fair and effective balance between security and liberty and I am in no doubt that the threat to the United Kingdom from international terrorism remains. The powers in Part 4 of the ATCSA have proved to be an important and effective part of our efforts to tackle international terrorism.  These powers have only been used in a small number of cases when an individual could not be prosecuted through normal procedures and could not be removed from the UK principally because of our international obligations under human rights.

Nonetheless, all of those detained are entitled to leave the UK at any time they choose (provided a country is prepared to countenance their presence), as two of those certified have already chosen to do.

These are not powers that have been assumed lightly. The strictest standards are applied when considering the case to certify and it has always been made clear that the certificates would be revoked if, on the basis of all the information available, the case does not justify the continuation of the certificate, as is the case in respect to C.

I have instructed Treasury Solicitors to write to “C”‘s legal representatives to notify them of this decision and they have done so. I have also notified Ann Taylor, chair of the Intelligence and Security Committee, of my decision.

“C” was released from detention on 31st January 2005.

Maintaining protection of national security and public safety is a top priority for this Government and I will continue to liaise closely with relevant authorities to ensure every practical step is taken to ensure a successful fight against terrorism while safeguarding individual liberties. On 26 January, I announced to Parliament my proposals for the way forward in relation to individuals whom we suspect of being terrorists but who we cannot prosecute in open court, for evidential reasons, particularly the need to protect highly sensitive sources and techniques.

[1] Text of statement supplied by the BBC.  I have not been able to find it on the Home Office or other government website.

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