Risk of terror exaggerated, say British MPs

The Government's assessment of the threat of terrorism in Britain is overstated and has undermined the case for imposing tough new anti-terror laws, an influential committee of MPs and peers has warned.

Ministers insist that Britain still faces a "public emergency" eight years after the September 11 attacks on the United States and has used it to justify a swathe of controversial legislation, including holding terror suspects without trial.

But members of Parliament's joint committee on human rights said that such a high level of threat was not credible because it had been continuously maintained for such a long period of time.

Andrew Dismore MP, chairman of the committee, said: "There is no question that we face a serious threat from terrorism, or that we need legislation to counter that threat.

"The question is, are the counter-terror measures we have in place justifiable, on an ongoing basis, in light of the most up to date information we have."

The committee's report, published yesterday, called for a review of all terror legislation passed since September 11 and asked whether it was realistic to say the state of emergency which existed at the time still remained now.

Dismore said: "The idea that we have consistently faced an emergency-level threat for over eight years since September 11 is, we believe, questionable."

The committee criticised the Government's narrow definition of complicity in torture as "significant and worrying". It said that in light of details published in the case of Binyam Mohammed, the case for an urgent independent inquiry into the allegations of complicity in torture was now "irresistible".


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