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Clause 32

Part of Counter-Terrorism Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:30 pm on 8th May 2008.

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Photo of Dominic Grieve Dominic Grieve Shadow Attorney General 3:30 pm, 8th May 2008

The clause deals with the forfeiture of terrorist property. I wish to make it clear to the Minister that I have no objection in principle to the idea that terrorist property should be forfeited. However, we perceive that a problem arises about whether the wording of the clause is too wide. It states:

“Where a person is convicted of an offence under section 15(1) or (2) or 16, the court may order the forfeiture of any money or other property which, at the time of the offence, the person had in their possession or under their control and which—

(a) had been used for the purposes of terrorism, or

(b) they intended should be used, or had reasonable cause to suspect might be used, for those purposes.”

In what circumstances should I have a reasonable cause to suspect that money might be used for a terrorist purpose?

For example, a large number of organisations in this country, some of which are registered charities, raise money for the relief of destitution, poverty and misery in the middle east, particularly the occupied west bank. From time to time, there are reports in national newspapers that one or other of those organisations is not fulfilling its charitable purposes, and that it is possible that money given by donors in this country is ending up in the hands of those who are promoting violence, and that they are using it to fund that violence. Seeing the generic nature of the anxiety that had been expressed, it must at least be the case that, if confronted with an organisation that seems to be a registered charity in this country and that otherwise has bona fides, I might have to say to myself, “I cannot say that I don’t have cause to suspect that it might be used, even though I have no evidence that it will be used as such at all.” I put it to the Minister that that illustrates my point better than any more of my speech making would do. I am worried that we might be extending the net too far through our wording.