Tue, Dec 21, 2004 - Page 7 News List

Terror suspects' lawyers to resign amid court ruling

Lawyers representing foreign suspects detained under Britain's anti-terrorism law are to resign in protest against the legislation, a few days after Britain's highest court said it was illegal, newspapers reported yesterday.

Ian Macdonald, one of the "Special Advocates" authorized by the authorities to work on terrorism-related issues, announced his decision to resign in the Mail on Sunday after the Law Lords, a panel of senior judges who act as the ultimate court of appeal in Britain, ruled 8-1 on Thursday that the detention of nine foreigners under the law breached human rights obligations.

"Such a law is an odious blot on our legal landscape and for reasons of conscience I feel that I must resign," Macdonald wrote in the weekly.

"My role has been altered to provide a false legitimacy to indefinite detention without knowledge of the accusations being made and without any kind of criminal charge or trial."

Up to now Macdonald had stayed on because he thought he could "make a difference," despite considering it "a wrong law brought in the wrong way to the wrong court."

The Independent said yesterday five lawyers out of the 19 with similar responsibilities would also announce their resignations this week. "I would be surprised if I was the only one," Macdonald told The Guardian.

"I support Mr. Macdonald's decision and hope he will not be the last," said Natalia Garcia, lawyer for one of the detainees, quoted by The Independent.

The daily said Macdonald would write to his colleagues to encourage them to follow his example.

Introduced following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the US, the anti-terror law allows foreigners to be jailed indefinitely without trial if the home secretary rules they are suspected of involvement in international terrorism, and they opt not to be deported to their home country.

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