Britain’s chief prosecutor and ex-government legal adviser dealt new blows Wednesday to Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s faltering plans to tighten terror laws, saying tougher measures are unnecessary and likely to stir ill-feeling in Muslim communities.
Lord Peter Goldsmith, a former attorney general and a close adviser to former Prime Minister Tony Blair, told lawmakers he has seen no evidence to support stiffer rules on detaining suspected terrorists.
Brown hopes to increase the maximum time terror suspects can be held by police before they must be charged or released from 28 days to around 58 days.
Advocates claim police need increasingly longer periods to scour encrypted computers, chase international leads and follow up on forensic evidence.
But Goldsmith and Ken Macdonald, the director of public prosecutions, told the Home Affairs Select Committee there was no proof any extension is necessary.
“It’s not just tough police powers that may be necessary, but winning hearts and minds,” Goldsmith told the committee.
Any sign Britain is prepared to hold suspects for weeks without charge “would damage that struggle,” he said.
Their appearance before the committee came more than two years after the July 2005 suicide bombings on London’s transportation system that killed 52 people and the four attackers.
Goldsmith told the committee he would have resigned his post had Parliament passed Blair’s proposals in 2005 to extend the maximum detention to 90 days.
Blair suffered a humiliating defeat when lawmakers rejected the plan, settling on a limit of 28 days.