|By James Kirkup, Political Correspondent
Eliza Manningham-Buller, the former head of MI5, today
dealt a huge blow to Gordon Brown’s plans to extend
the detention of terrorist suspects to 42 days.
Making her first speech as a member of the House of
Lords, the former security chief said the Government’s
plans were wrong in principle and in practice.
She spoke as the Government’s controversial Counter-Terrorism
Bill, narrowly approved by the Commons last month, reached
the House of Lords.
The Bill would extend the period of time the police
can hold terror suspects without charge to six weeks,
up from the current limit of 28 days.
Ministers and some police chiefs say the new powers
are needed to keep Britain safe from terrorist attack.
But Baroness Manningham-Buller, who retired last year
as director-general of the Security Service after a
35-year career in British intelligence, forcefully rejected
“In deciding what I believe on these matters, I have
weighed up the balance between the right to life, the
most import civil liberty, the fact that there is no
such thing as complete security and the importance of
our hard won civil liberties,” she said. "And therefore
on a matter of principle, I cannot support the 42-days
pre-charge detention in this bill."
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