Lord Advocate on 42 day detention

The Lord Advocate, Elish Angiolini, has added her voice to the number of senior prosecution lawyers, past and present, arguing that there is no justifiable case for increasing pre-charge detention limits for terrorist suspects from 28 days to 42 days.

The Lord Advocate is head of Scotland’s prosecution service and is a career lawyer, not a politician. She voiced her concerns in a letter to the Liberal Democrat MP for Orkney and Shetland, Alistair Carmichael.

In her letter she said:

While there has been a limited number of cases in Scotland which were investigated in terms of the Terrorism Act 2000, I am not aware of any case where an extension of the period beyond 28 days would have been required.

I therefore share the view of the DPP (Director of public prosecutions) Sir Ken MacDonald and the former Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith, that the requirement for an extension to the current 28 day is not supported by prosecution experience to date.

Why do the Prime Minister and Home Secretary continue to push for 42 day detention when prosecutors from around the UK, both past and present, say it is not justified? It is the Prosecution service who work to some of the strictest time limits around, so surly they should know if something can be managed within the current provisions.

Former Lord Advocate, Lord Fraser of Carmylie, said there was “absolutely no justification” for increasing the number of days a terror suspect could be detained without charge. He continued:

“Actually the Crown Prosecution Service has found that it can operate quite satisfactorily within a 14-day period of detention,”

“So even 28 days is not justified, 42 certainly is not.”