Brighton terror suspect set to be freed

Posted On 02 Dec 2009 at 7:20 am

An unidentified Brighton man – known only as “U” – won a legal battle against the Government yesterday in the High Court.

U – a 46-year-old Algerian – had been denied bail on the basis of secret evidence.

Lord Justice Laws dealt a fresh blow to the Government’s anti-terror laws when he ruled that this was illegal.

The judge said that at one stage U “disappeared” after leaving a Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) hearing.

His solicitors later learnt that he was being held at a top security prison.

Lord Justice Laws said that U had a long and complex history.

He came to Britain in 1994 and claimed asylum. Two years later he went to Afghanistan, returning to Britain in 1999. His application for asylum was turned down in 2000. He is suspected of being involved in terrorist activity.

He was arrested in March 2001 and, though never convicted of any offence, had been held in custody continuously since then apart from a seven-month period when he was released on bail.

The Home Secretary did not object to an application for bail in 2008 provided that U lived at a Liverpool address and obeyed a 22-hour curfew.

U sought to stay at an address in Brighton. The Home Secretary objected to this but did not say why.

In April last year, the SIAC ordered that U be released on bail to the Brighton address “subject to stringent conditions, including a 24-hour curfew”.

The Home Secretary later sought to have U’s bail revoked after the Government won the right to deport him.

The SIAC turned down the request at a hearing in February this year.

U then “disappeared” on his way home from the hearing. His lawyers were unable to find out what had happened to him.

The next day, at another SIAC hearing, they learnt that he had been arrested anyway and taken to Belmarsh top security prison.

The Home Secretary presented secret evidence to the SIAC hearing and the commission revoked U’s bail.

This was challenged by way of a judicial review at the High Court yesterday.

Lord Justice Laws, sitting with Mr Justice Owen, ruled against the Government and refused permission to appeal.

The judges did, however, agree that U’s release should be delayed to allow the SIAC time to ask the Court of Appeal to decide whether it wanted to look into the matter.

Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, the human rights watchdog, said: “Yet again it takes a senior judge to point out what most people already know – if the Government is going to lock you up, it needs to tell you why.

“Thanks to this historic judgment, the shadowy secret court system that has mushroomed under the ‘war on terror’ will now be exposed to the light of day.

“The hard lesson of recent years is that diluting Britain’s core values and abandoning justice makes us both less safe and free.”

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