Our deportation plan may be illegal, admits Blair
By Andrew Sparrow in Beijing, 06/09/2005
Tony Blair admitted yesterday that there was a "major question" over the legality of the Government's plans to deport certain Islamic extremists.
In his first broadcast interview since his return from holiday, the Prime Minister confirmed that the Government was planning to change the law if judges ruled that the tactics being used to try to deport extremists were illegal.
He also said that the video released last week showing one of the London suicide bombers talking about his plans showed why the Government had to challenge extremism in the Muslim community.
Mr Blair announced before his summer holiday that the Government was planning to deal with this problem by signing memorandums of understanding with the countries accused of abusing prisoners.
In an interview with the BBC, Mr Blair admitted yesterday that judges might refuse to accept the assurances given in the memorandums of understanding.
Asked why no deportations had yet taken place, the Prime Minister said: "You can serve the orders for deportation swiftly, but the legal process then takes some time to determine.
"But there's a major question as to whether, on the basis of understandings with countries to which we want to return these people, we will be able to within the courts." Speaking in Beijing, at the start of a four-day tour of China and India, Mr Blair said the Government might have to amend the law to stop judges blocking its deportation cases.
Commenting on the video released last week showing Mohammed Sidique Khan, one of the bombers involved in the July 7 attacks in London, Mr Blair said: "In the end, we have got to challenge the idea that a section of our country is being victimised by our country."
David Davis, the shadow home secretary, said he had warned the Government that it would have to change the law to enable it to deport some of the extremists staying in Britain.
He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "We have called for action to ensure that British courts behave in a similar way to some European courts on all this."
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