Victory for Liberty's Charge or Release campaign

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Victory for Liberty's Charge or Release campaign


Liberty's campaign against the Government's plans to extend pre-charge detention ended in emphatic victory, with the Government announcing that it would drop the proposed measure from the counter-terrorism bill.

The move followed an overwhelming defeat in the House of Lords. The Upper House rejected the proposal by 191 votes after a three-hour debate dominated by opponents of 42 days from all quarters of the Lords. There were 24 Labour rebels including two former Lord Chancellors, Lord Irvine of Lairg and Lord Falconer of Thoroton, as well as Baroness Manningham-Buller, former head of MI5, Justice Lord Woolf, former Lord Chief Justice and Lord Condon, former Metropolitan Police Commissioner.

Lord Falconer, dismissed the government's arguments as "fanciful", telling peers he had changed his mind after supporting plans to detain terror suspects without charge for 90 days in 2005. He said:

"The idea that extending [the detention period] from 28 days to 42 days is going to make a difference is utterly fanciful."

Lord Dear, a former West Midlands chief constable, told peers:

“There is almost universal opposition to what the Government proposes.

"It almost beggars belief that any administration could embark on such a course.”

Lady Neville-Jones, the shadow security minister and former chair of the Joint Intelligence Committee, condemned the plans as "unnecessary, undesirable and unworkable''.

And Baroness Mallalieu, a Labour peer, said that while she was in the "uncomfortable" position of being forced to vote against her party, the plan was: "dangerous, wrong and completely and wholly unnecessary in practice."

A cross-party political and public campaign

With your help and support, Liberty's award winning Charge or Release campaign has been running for over a year. We have consistently urged the Government to drop these damaging proposals and have condemned the measures as wrong in principle, unnecessary and counter-productive.

Liberty has been overwhelmed by public and parliamentary support for Charge or Release, a true cross-party political and public campaign against this unnecessary and divisive policy.

Support for Charge or Release has come all corners and from across the globe. Supporters have included Archbishop Desmond Tutu, political activist Noam Chomsky, Pakistan’s Human Rights Commissioner Asma Jahangir, designer Vivienne Westwood, former Chief Constable Geoffrey Dear, UNITE, UNISON, CWU, National Union of Journalists, the General Synod, journalists and columnists from a wide range of newspapers, senior legal opinion, the four London Mayoral candidates, the UN Human Rights Committee, the Council of Europe's Human Rights Commissioner, the two main opposition parties and a large number of Labour MPs and peers.

Freedom Reading

On the eve of the vote in the House of Lords, forty-two leading writers added their support for Charge or Release, displaying their opposition to the plans through forty-two poignant pieces of writing. '42 Writers for Liberty' showcases new works by leading writers including Philip Pullman, Monica Ali, Julian Barnes, Mohsin Hamid, Ian Rankin, Sadie Jones, Ali Smith and A.L. Kennedy. Visit www.42writers.com to read these wonderful works.

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