British attorney general sees no need to hold terror suspects for 90 days as Blair proposed

Sunday, November 19th 2006, 9:18 pm
By: News On 6

LONDON (AP) Britain's attorney general said Monday he is not convinced of the need to hold terrorist suspects for up to 90 days without charge, a key goal of his close ally, Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Lord Goldsmith, the government's chief legal adviser said there was not enough evidence to support increasing the limit to 90 days.

``I haven't seen it yet,'' he said. ``The recent investigations demonstrate that it was right to extend the period to 28 days, but on extending it any further, we need evidence to demonstrate that that is needed,'' Goldsmith said.

In the wake of the July 2005 terrorist bombings of London's transit system, which killed 52 people, Blair sought new anti-terror legislation including a proposal to allow terrorist suspects to be held for a maximum of 90 days.

But the prime minister suffered a humbling parliamentary defeat last year, prompted by a rebellion in his own Labour Party, when lawmakers rejected that proposal and agreed instead on a compromise of 28 days.

Still Blair, who has announced he will step down within the year, signaled last week that he hoped to extend the limit beyond 28 days during his final parliamentary term.

His official spokesman said cases such as an alleged plot foiled in August to bomb U.S. bound airliners proved a review was necessary.

Blair said he would meet opposition leaders in an attempt to reach consensus on the issue.