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Control Order Powers (December 2007 - March 2008)

Volume 473: debated on Thursday 13 March 2008

Section 14(1) of the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 (“the 2005 Act”) requires the Home Secretary to report to Parliament as soon as reasonably practicable after the end of every relevant three-month period on the exercise of the control order powers during that period.

The level of information provided will always be subject to slight variations based on operational advice.

Control orders continue to be an essential tool to protect the public from terrorism, particularly where it is not possible to prosecute individuals for terrorism-related activity and, in the case of foreign nationals, where they cannot be removed from the UK.

As stated in previous quarterly statements on control orders, control order obligations are tailored to the individual concerned and are based on the terrorism-related risk that individual poses. Each control order is kept under regular review to ensure that obligations remain necessary and proportionate. The Home Office continues to hold control order review groups (CORGs) every quarter, with representation from law enforcement and intelligence agencies, to keep the obligations in every control order under regular and formal review and to facilitate a review of appropriate exit strategies. During this reporting period, three CORGs were held in relation to the orders currently in force. In addition, further meetings were held on an ad hoc basis as specific issues arose.

During the period from 11 December 2007 to 10 March 2008, two non-derogating control orders were made. One of these was quashed following a review hearing. Three control orders were renewed in accordance with section 2(6) of the 2005 Act. One was subsequently revoked after the subject received a prison sentence for criminal offences unrelated to his control order. Three control orders against individuals who had absconded have expired.

In total, 11 control orders are currently in force, four of which are in respect of British citizens. Three of the individuals live in the Metropolitan police service area; the rest live within other police force areas. All of these control orders are non-derogating.

During this reporting period, 35 modifications of control order obligations were made. 12 requests to modify a control order obligation were refused. A right of appeal exists in sections 10(1) and 10(3) of the 2005 Act against decisions by the Secretary of State to modify an obligation imposed by a non-derogating control order, without consent, and to refuse a request by a controlled person to modify any such obligation. Three such appeals have been lodged in this reporting period. Two modification appeals have been heard and judgment has been given in one of these cases (the judge did not find it necessary to give an explicit ruling on the other appeal). A further modification appeal lodged in the previous reporting period was part heard during this reporting period. Section 10(1) of the 2005 Act also contains a provision to appeal against the renewal of a non-derogating control order. One appeal has been lodged against the renewal of an order in this reporting period and one such appeal has been heard with judgment reserved.

During this reporting period, six judgments relating to control orders were handed down by the High Court and one was handed down by the Court of Appeal. Two of these related to the case of Secretary of State for the Home Department v. Cerie Bullivant, which was heard during this reporting period. The first set out the approach that the court would take to Article 6 in the case. The second judgment related to the substantive review of Cerie Bullivant’s first and second control orders. The second control order was quashed on the basis that at the time of the review hearing grounds for reasonable suspicion of Cerie Bullivant’s involvement in terrorism-related activity did not exist. No final judgment was necessary on the first order as it had already expired prior to the hearing.

In the case of Secretary of State for the Home Department v. AE a judgment was handed down which found that, at that stage in the proceedings, Article 6 had been complied with. In the case of the Secretary of State for the Home Department v. AN, the High Court held that the Secretary of State would have to disclose further material to AN or withdraw reliance upon it in order to ensure that the hearing would be compatible with Article 6. In the case of Secretary of State for the Home Department v. AF the High Court ruled that without further disclosure to AF Article 6 has not been complied with, unless AF could have no conceivable answer to the case against him even if further disclosure was made.

The Court of Appeal handed down a judgment in the case of Secretary of State for the Home Department v. AF on procedural matters and a High Court judgment was handed down in the case of Secretary of State for the Home Department v. AM in closed only.

One substantive control order review was completed in the High Court having previously been adjourned—judgment is awaited in this case. Two substantive reviews were adjourned part heard and another was adjourned.

An individual was found not guilty on a number of charges of breaching control order obligations on 13 December 2007 by a jury at the Old Bailey.

A further individual has been charged for a number of breaches relating to his control order. He is currently on remand in prison.