Examination of Witnesses

Part of Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 10:47 am on 21st June 2011.

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Keir Starmer: May I briefly walk you through the process? Looking at the current regime, we are now involved from the outset if consideration is being given to whether a control order should be made. The deputy head of counter-terrorism, Deborah Walsh, is immediately notified, and she then allocates one of the prosecuting lawyers from her division who, day in, day out, prosecutes terrorism cases before the courts. They have a great deal of experience, as everyone here understands.

If a decision is made that a control order may be imposed, the exercise begins of reviewing the available material to assess whether it meets the code test that I adumbrated earlier. That approach is no different from the approach that Deborah Walsh and her team take week in, week out, on numerous other terrorist operations. They are in the business of reviewing material to consider whether prosecutions can be brought. If a prosecution can be brought, that is the priority and a prosecution is brought. We are firmly committed to that. If a prosecution cannot be brought, we give brief closed reasons to the relevant authorities. The allocated lawyer then remains with the control order in question. Deborah Walsh sits on the quarterly review meetings that look at all control orders. They are reviewed either if there is new material or if renewal is suggested, and we go through the same exercise. That exercise, the second time round, will include consideration of any of the material that has been led in the control order civil proceedings. At each stage we are applying the code test. So that is the extent to which we are involved in the process. We have found it useful to have an allocated lawyer stay with the case during its lifetime.