CAMPACC statements, press releases...


Control Orders: Open letter to Home Secretary Alan Johnson MP

The House of Commons will debate whether the controversial control order system will be renewed on Monday 1st March 2010. There are serious concerns about the renewal of control orders from all sections of our civil society. CAMPACC organised an open letter to the Home Secretary from over 120 individuals drawn from a range of professions and organisations urging him to not to pursue their renewal.

Below is the full version of the open letter to the Home Secretary. View the edited version on at The Guardian, 1 March 2010.


Dear Home Secretary,

We write to urge you not to renew the control order provisions of the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005, introduced in haste in March 2005 following the House of Lords Judicial Committee’s condemnation of indefinite detention of foreign terrorist suspects. In the five years of their operation, control orders have attracted criticism from national bodies including the Joint Committee on Human Rights, Justice, Liberty and Amnesty International UK, and eminent international bodies including the International Commission of Jurists, the UN Human Rights Committee and Human Rights Watch. This has focussed on the inherent unfairness of the orders, their reliance on secret evidence, and the devastating impact they have on those subject to them.


You will be aware (through reports presented during litigation and press coverage) of the severe impact of the orders on family and private life, and on the mental health of those subjected to them. (This is acknowledged by Lord Carlile in his fifth annual review of control orders.) Partial house arrest, confinement to a restricted geographical area, wearing a tag, and the constant need to report, to seek permission, to have visitors (even medical visitors) vetted, and the stigma associated with being targeted in this way, takes a severe toll not only on controlled persons but on their families. Children’s school performance is badly affected by denial of internet access (making homework very difficult), by restriction of visitors, by fathers being unable to take their children out freely, by the disruption and fear caused by frequent house searches, and by children witnessing the humiliation and despair caused to their parents by these measures. The detrimental impact of the orders is even worse since, although in theory time-limited to a year, in reality, renewal of orders means that subjection to these draconian restrictions is endless.

The fact that there have been so few control orders in the five years of their operation - 44 in total according to Lord Carlile - gives the misleading impression that those controlled must be truly dangerous. But the small number of orders does not necessarily mean that the intelligence behind them is accurate. Not many people were hanged for murder when the UK had capital punishment - but a significant proportion turn out to have been innocent.


Major sources of unfairness are the use of secret evidence and the lack of real advance judicial scrutiny. Permission to make a non-derogating order can only be denied by a High Court judge if the decision to make the order, or the grounds for making it, are ‘obviously flawed’. This, and the lack of input from the proposed subject of the order, would not be such a problem if the review process was not subject to such delays, but at present the full review hearing rarely takes place within 12 months. During all this time, of course, the controlled person is subject to the full rigours of the control order.

The judge may quash the order at the full review stage, but only if there is no reasonable suspicion of involvement in terrorist activities. It is a very low threshold for the Home Office, and is frequently satisfied by evidence that neither the controlled person nor his advocate has had an opportunity to test in cross-examination. This remains the case despite the Judicial Committee’s ruling in June 2009 (in AF and another v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2009] UKHL 28) that the controlled person is entitled to enough disclosure to be able to answer allegations; the Committee was referring to the amount of detail in the allegation, and not to the evidential foundation for the allegations, which generally remains closed. As Human Rights Watch has observed, the control order regime undermines the right to an effective defence, the principle of equality of arms, and the presumption of innocence.


Although it would be inappropriate to judge the control order regime by its cost-effectiveness as a principal criterion, it is reasonable to note that implementation of the orders has cost a fortune in litigation; the Joint Committee on Human Rights has calculated that total legal costs from 2006 to date are likely to exceed £20 million (taking into account the costs of legal aid and judicial sitting time), which is almost half a million pounds for each controlled person. Litigation has also seriously diminished the utility of the orders as a tool for controlling and disrupting terrorist activity, to the point where there must be very serious doubts as to their cost-effectiveness (compared with more targeted surveillance and effective use of the criminal justice system).


The fact that British citizens and residents can be subjected indefinitely to such extraordinary measures, with no effective means of challenge, contravening in important respects common-law guarantees of fairness as well as Article 6 ECHR, has damaged the reputation of the United Kingdom and do irreparable harm to the fabric of justice in this country. In addition, public trust in the security services and the government is eroded, and communities whose co-operation is vital in the fight against terrorism are intimidated and alienated. In the words of solicitor Gareth Peirce, ‘This may affect only a small group of people but in terms of its contribution to what one might call the folklore of injustice it is colossal.’

For these reasons we urge you not to renew this legislation.

Yours sincerely

Mike Mansfield QC Criminal Defence Barrister Tooks Chambers
Craig Murray,
writer, broadcaster, human rights activist, former British Ambassador
Sir Geoffrey Bindman
, solicitor
Lord Rea
Clare Short MP
John McDonnell MP
Victoria Brittain,
writer and journalist
Dafydd Iwan,
LL.D., President of Plaid Cymru, Party of Wales
Bruce Kent,
Vice-President Pax Christi
Louise Christian,
human rights lawyer
Baroness Sarah Ludford MEP
Caroline Lucas MEP
Jean Lambert MEP
Frances Webber
, human rights lawyer
Liz Fekete,
Institute of Race Relation (IRR)
Carla Ferstman
, Director, Redress
Ben Hayes,
Peter Tatchell,
human rights campaigner
Prof. Chris Frost,
Head of Journalism, Liverpool John Moores University
Hilary Wainright
, Co-editor, Red Pepper
Cori Crider
, Legal Director, Reprieve
Paddy Hillyard,
Emeritus Professor, QUB
Bob Jeffrey,
University of Salford
Amrit Wilson,
Dr Richard Wild,
University of Greenwich
Dr. Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed
, Executive Director, Institute of Public Policy Research.
Andy Worthington,
journalist and author of "The Guantanamo Files"
Lord Gifford QC
, barrister and Vice-President of the Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers
Liz Davies,
barrister and Chair Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers
Anna Morris
, barrister and Vice0Chair Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers
Professor Bill Bowring
barrister and International Secretary Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers
Dr Victoria Sentas,
School of Law, King's College London
Margaret Owen
, Director WPD, International Human Rights Lawyer
Phil Shiner
, Public Interest Lawyers
Sam Jacobs
, Public Interest Lawyers
Daniel Carey
, Public Interest Lawyers
Tessa Gregory
, Public Interest Lawyers
Moazzam Begg
, Director, Cageprisoners
Massoud Shadjareh
, Chair, Islamic Human Rights Commission
Aamer Anwar
, Human Rights Lawyer.
Nick Hildyard, Sarah Sexton, Larry Lohmann,
The Corner House
Desmond Fernandes
, policy analyst and author
Dinah Livingstone
, writer, translator, editor
Tim Gopsill,
journalist, Editor of “Free Press”
Paul Donovan
, journalist
Estelle du Boulay,
The Newham Monitoring Project
Suresh Grover
, Director of The Monitoring Group
George Binette,
Arzu Pesmen
, Kurdish Federation UK
David Morgan,
Peace in Kurdistan Campaign
Alex Fitch,
Peace in Kurdistan Campaign
Matt Foot
, solicitor
Hugo Charlton
, barrister
Dr Kalpana Wilson,
London School of Economics
Jonathan Bloch,
Lib Dem Councillor and author
Michael Seifert,
solicitor and Vice-President of the Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers
Kat Craig
solicitor and Vice-Chair Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers
Khatchatur I. Pilikian, Prof of Music & Art
Dr Alana Lentin
, Senior Lecturer, Sociology, University of Sussex
Dr Christina Pantazis,
University of Bristol
Professor Steve Tombs,
Liverpool John Moore University
Claire Hamilton,
Dublin Institute of Technology, Dublin.
Professor Phil Scraton,
School of Law, Queen’s University, Belfast
Dr Theodore Gabriel,
University of Gloucestershire, Cheltenham
Dr Jan Gordon,
University of Lincoln, Exeter
Dr Tina Patel,
University of Salford
Professor Penny Green,
Kings College, London
John Moore,
University of West of England, Bristol
Professor Joe Sim,
Liverpool John Moore University
Dr David Whyte,
University of Liverpool
Dr Stephanie Petrie
, University of Liverpool
Dr Dianne Frost,
University of Liverpool
Martin Ralph
, (UCU Committee), University of Liverpool
Dr Anandi Ramamurthy,
University of Central Lancashire
Professor Jawed Siddiqui,
Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield
Dr Silvia Posocco,
Birkbeck College, University of London
Dr Muzammil Quraishi
, University of Salford
Dr Adi Kuntsman, University
of Manchester
Professor Lynne Segal,
Birkbeck College, University of London
Dr Joanne Milner,
University of Salford
Dr Yasmeen Narayan,
Birkbeck College, University of London
Professor Scott Poynting,
Manchester Metropolitan University
Dr Liam McCann,
University of Lincoln
Dr Pritam Singh,
Oxford Brooks University
Sophie Khan
Simon Behrman
Owen Greenhall
Martha Jean Baker
Ripon Ray
Stephen Marsh
Declan Owens
Rheian Davies,
Richard Harvey
Deborah Smith,
Alastair Lyons,
solicitor, Birnberg Peirce
Hossain Zahir ,
Chantal Refahi ,
Anna Mazzola,
Zareena Mustafa,
Lochlinn Parker,
Anne Gray,
Saleh Mamon,
Les Levidow
Estella Schmid,
Dr Saleyha Ahsan
No More Secrets-Respect Article 5, film maker
Mohamed Nur
Kentish Town Community Organisation
Abshir Mohamed
Kentish Town Community Organisation
Samarendra Das
, filmmaker and writer
Rebecca Oliner
, artist
Rebekah Carrier,
Dr Smarajit Roy,
PPC Green Party Candidate for Mitcham and Mudern
PM Forbes,
The Green Party, Sandhust, Berkshire
Jayne Forbes,
Chair, Green Party
Adrian Cruden,
Green Party PPC Newsbury
Lesley Hedges,
Green Party PPC Colne Valley
Sarah Cope
, Green Party PPC Stroud Green
A Bragga,
Green Party PPC for Stroud Green
Graham Wroe
, lecturer Sheffield Green Parry
Ånthony Agius,
Housnlow Green Party PPC
Roy Vickery,
Green Pary PPC for Jostag
Charlie Bagnall
Omar Khan
Russell Fraser