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United Kingdom tones down anti-terror law

Britain has softened controversial plans to make it a criminal offence to praise terrorist attacks, but allow police to detain terror suspects for upto three months without being charged.

india Updated: Oct 07, 2005 11:23 IST

Britain has watered down controversial plans to make it a criminal offence to praise terrorist attacks but has stood by proposals to allow police to detain terror suspects for upto three months without being charged.

British Home Secretary Charles Clarke on Thursday night abandoned proposals published just three weeks ago which would have made it a crime to glorify terrorist acts contained in a list compiled by the Home Office, his office said in a statement.

But Clarke stood by plans to allow police to detain terror suspects for up to three months before charge.

The offence of glorifying terrorism will still feature in a new Terrorism Bill, but it will have to be proved that the person making the statement intended to incite further terrorist acts.

Analysts had said the previous drafting was too wide, with London mayor Ken Livingstone suggesting it would have criminalised supporters of Nelson Mandela and the South African ANC 20 years ago.

Seeking to restore cross-party support for the plans, Clarke wrote to his Conservative and Liberal Democrat shadows saying he thought he had found a way to "ameliorate some of the concern."

The trustee or registered owner of a place of worship would be issued with an order "obtained from a court by the police" requiring them to take steps to stop such behaviour. Failing to do so would be a criminal offence.

If the activity persisted, police could apply to the court for a "restriction of use order" which would temporarily close all or part of the premises.

The new powers would be a "last resort" and police would attempt to solve problems at any place of worship with members of the community, the statement said.

First Published: Oct 07, 2005 11:23 IST