The UK’s attorney general Lord Goldsmith has told the US that the nine British terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay must be given access to legal advice. Goldsmith is in talks in Washington with officials from the US Defense Department.

The talks were prompted by the row over the US decision to put forward two British detainess for military tribunal. “My objective in these discussions is to ensure that the British detainees held at Guantanamo Bay are assured of fair trials that meet international legal standards, wherever those trials take place,” said Lord Goldsmith in a statement issued before the talks.

“One of the first steps that must be taken is for the detainees to have the benefit of legal advice. The Government remains opposed to the death penalty in all circumstances.”

Feroz Abbasi, 23, from London, and Moazzam Begg, 35, from Birmingham were on President George Bush’s initial list of six detainees who could face the American military tribunals at the air base in Cuba.

Earlier the lawyer for one of the Britons accused the US government of totally ignoring all internationally agreed standards relating to detention.

Gareth Peirce – who represents Moazzam Begg – told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “It sounds as if we’ve given our unconditional approval to a new international lawlessness.

I don’t know whether he’s a religious tourist or a Taleban soldier or an al-Qaeda terrorist

“The United States not by one iota have acted in compliance with any international treaty, either by recognising competence, so-called, under the Geneva Convention, or recognising the rights of detainees not to be interrogated or by ignoring the question of torture.

“Some human rights are absolute – torture is prohibited in all circumstances and detention in Bagram and in Guantanamo has violated every single international norm.”

She argued that the only outcome that the UK Government should accept out of the situation was the return of the men to Britain.

Ms Peirce added that Lord Goldsmith should not be trading human rights for “marginal reassurances in relation to the death penalty”.

“As long as it is a military tribunal in which the interrogator, judge, jury and potential executioner is the executive, it is wholly unlawful and it can’t be remedied,” she said.

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