Anti-Terror Policy ‘Must Be Lawful’

Lawyers must take a back seat to policy makers when it comes to counter-terrorism, the Lord Chancellor is expected to warn. Lord Falconer of Thoroton – due to deliver a keynote speech at a major conference on politics and terrorism – will say that counter-terror measures must always be lawful.

But his comments are likely to be interpreted as a reference to human rights lawyers – and possibly judges – who have sometimes been blamed for frustrating the Government’s attempts to bring in new laws on terrorism.

“In overcoming terrorism, policy must come first and the law second,” he is expected to say. “While the responses must be lawful, it is the policy-makers and not lawyers who must determine that response. Some of the ingredients that will bring success are the activities of the police and the security services, military action abroad, improved international co-operation and effective policy tools to combat radicalisation at home.”

In his speech to the conference at the Royal United Services Institute in Whitehall, the Lord Chancellor is expected to advocate a new political approach to counter-terrorist measures.

He is due to say: “We need to get away from the politics of polarisation, where you’re either tough or soft, with us or against us, where human rights are viewed as a ‘terrorists’ charter’.”

The Cabinet minister is likely to urge a “pragmatic” approach to anti-terror measures which were “neither tough nor soft, but which get it right”.

The impact of counter-terrorism laws on the wider community must also be considered, he is due to say. Human rights were part of the values which define our society and which “mark us out” from the terrorists, he is expected to add.

Terror legislation has been surrounded by controversy and legal challenge since emergency laws were brought in after the September 11 attacks.