42 days is toast (probably)
Today he broke the story about 42 days being dropped as 'unworkable', which has been picked up by Nick Robinson, the BBC's political editor and by several other newspapers.
The jig was well and truly up when the loquacious Andy Hayman, previously assistant commissioner for special ops at Scotland Yard wrote in a column for today's Times
'the Government's current proposals are not fit for purpose:
they are bureaucratic, convoluted and unworkable'
which has been blindingly obvious for several months. Hayman makes the point about 'playing politics' and 'games' several times. And of course that is exactly what all this was always about.
The government have already denied that they have dropped 42 days. They will drop it of course - they'll have to, next week, when the Lords absolutely savage it. It stank from its inception and the way it was bribed and bullied through the Commons was not only dishonourable but a complete waste of time. I was very pleased when my MP, Diane Abbott made a thunderous speech decrying it and when David Davis resigned as Shadow Home Secretary in protest at it.
The coup de grace to 42 days was administered by the previous head of M15, the newly-minted Baronness Eliza Manningham Buller, in her sensational maiden speech in the Lords. She was, let us not forget, in charge of M15 during the 7/7 bombings and served 33 years in the security service - so can hardly be accused of being a dewy-eyed idealist in denial about the true nature of the threat from terrorism. At that point, it was dead in the water, and rightly so. Just for good measure, another former spy chief Stella Rimington poured cold water on it last week as well.
However, the bad news is that the 'secret inquests without juries' clause is still in the counter -terror legislation, and with recent news that the government wants to spend £12 billion
on a database to store every email, phone call and text we send, plus the
insane waste of money that is ID cards, it is very clear that the fight to
preserve our freedoms is more important than ever.
UPDATE: It turns out that that the Council of Europe ( click here for an explanation of what they are) have pointed out this week that locking people up for six weeks in a police cell without actually charging them with any crime at all is quite possibly incompatible with European human rights legislation. Meanwhile, the Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture also published a damning report.
Still think it's a fuss over nothing and you can't be too careful? A 23-year old student detained under the anti-terror legislation confirms 'it really is psychological torture'
Remember this: More than half of the people in the UK arrested for terrorism offences have been innocent and later released without charge, by the way. Yes, really. Go and look at the Home Office website if you don't believe me.
From September 2001 to March 2007 1,228 people were arrested under the terrorism laws.
669 were later released without charge.
Of those charged, only 41 were actually convicted under the terrorism act, and 183 were convicted under other legislation. ( murder, firearms, fraud, conspiracy to cause explosions and so on. Laws which we've had kicking about the statute books for a very long time)
And 114 people are at, or still awaiting trial.
It's probably more by now.