By Gerri Peev |
ANTI-TERRORISM legislation drawn up by Gordon Brown to allow the Treasury to seize assets from suspects has been ruled unlawful by a High Court judge. The practice, which was dubbed “Britain’s financial Guantanamo” by campaigners, was condemned by the judge as absurd and unfair, breaching the human rights of individuals.
Mr Justice Collins said asset-freezing sanctions, introduced by Mr Brown when he was chancellor, had a “drastic” impact on the lives of the suspects. “Since the possible penalty on conviction is severe, the concerns are understandable and the effect on the applicant and his family, whose human rights are also in issue, is severe,” he said.
Five men who brought the case had been designated terror suspects, but had not been charged and were not told what offences they were meant to have committed.
The designation meant they had limited spending power and had to have every receipt scrutinised by civil servants. If they breached the tough rules, they could have faced up to seven years in jail.
The Treasury said last night it was “disappointed” with the judgment and would appeal.
Solicitors for the five men, who were accused of facilitating terrorism but were not allowed to know the specific charges against them, said their treatment had been “devastating and humiliating”.
One man blamed his marriage failure on the order. None had convictions for terrorism and all denied any links with terrorism.
Solicitors said in a statement: “We have the madness of civil servants checking Tesco receipts; a child having to ask for a receipt every time it does a chore by running to the shops for a pint of milk; and a neighbour possibly committing a criminal offence by lending a lawnmower.”