Massive public support for tough terror controls – poll

By DAVID WOODING

TERRORIST suspects should be put under strict new control orders to curb their movements, Theresa May has been warned.

Most people think the system of monitoring extremists is useless and want Britain’s homeland security beefed up urgently.

Six out of ten are demanding the return of control orders, scrapped in 2011 because they infringed the liberty of suspects.

And they want British Muslims who leave to fight with jihadists in Syria or Iraq placed under house arrest when they return to the UK.

The PM is urged to take a much harder line on home-grown radicals in an exclusive ICM poll for The Sun on Sunday.

Brits gave Mrs May a powerful message of support for almost any action to protect keep the country safe – even if it hits their own civil liberties.

The majority of people believe human rights laws are too heavily tilted in favour of terrorists and criminals and not the public they are meant to protect.

Seven out of ten believe security services should be given more power to spy on people – by checking phone, internet and email data.

An overwhelming 72 per cent believe snooping is justified, even if it erodes civil liberties. They outnumber those opposed to it by a massive eight to one.

Two-thirds of people are in favour of companies being compelled to give up encrypted mobile phone data to spy chiefs. They believe this would disrupt terrorists using phone apps to plot their atrocities without being detected.

Tory MP Tim Loughton, who sits on the Commons home affairs committee, said last night: “This poll shows just how much the whole argument around terrorism and civil liberties has moved on.

“People are now overwhelmingly more concerned about keeping our country safe in the wake of recent atrocities on the continent.

“If that means giving up some of our civil liberties, it’s a price that many people feel is worth paying.”

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Support for more draconian action against extremists has grown in the wake of recent atrocities in Nice and Paris.

And our poll suggest they Mrs May would boost her no-nonsense image if she were to bring back control orders.

The tool was used to put suspects under house arrest, restrict where they travel, who they meet and stop them using the internet or smart phones.

But they were ditched by the coalition government after protests from Lib Dem deputy leader Nick Clegg that they breached human rights.

They were replaced by weaker Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures, known as T-Pims.

But only one terrorist in Britain is subject to the order – and he is using taxpayers’ money to fight a legal battle to have it lifted.

This is despite there being at least 2,000 fanatics at large in Britain, The Sun on Sunday revealed last week.

More than half of people – 58 per cent – think that terror suspects restricted by any court order should be banned from claiming legal aid to fight it, our poll reveals.

Some 41 per cent believe human rights laws give most protection to criminals and those engaged in the planning of terrorist acts. This compares with only 33 per cent who think they safeguard the public and victims of crime and terrorism.

The T-Pim order – the toughest tool at the disposal of security services – is seen as ineffective by most people.

And 63 per cent would support the return of the more restrictive control order – ten times the number who would oppose it.

Even among young people – more guarded about civil liberties – there is overwhelming support for it.

Fifty per cent of people aged 18 to 24 support control orders, compared with 13 per cent in the same age bracket who oppose them.

A similar number, 62 per cent, say all British subjects who chose to fight in support of IS in war zones such as Syria, Iraq or Afghanistan should automatically be subject to orders on their return.

Mr Loughton said the poll highlights a changing mood in the general public in response to the heightened terrorist threat.

The MP added: “We are only too aware of the enemy beyond the Channel but we now need to define the way we deal with the enemy within.

“That must mean better surveillance and anybody who has been to war zones such as Syria should be more strictly monitored. This is a wake-up call.

“Despite the fantastic work our intelligence and security services do to keep us safe, the law needs to be toughened to make sure the terrorist menace does not get across the Channel to wreak havoc with the every-day freedoms we often take for granted.”

Seven in ten would support restrictions on their OWN freedom of movement around the EU if it made it harder for terrorists to operate freely.

One in four believes Britain will be safer once we have left the EU – but nearly half think it will make no difference.

Cuts and waste

By DAVID WOODING

GEORGE Osborne is wielding the axe again — with £9billion of savings in his sights.
It’s a relief that the Chancellor has ruled out further tax rises as a way to meet his targets.
And he is absolutely right to protect the security services and anti-terror cops from any more cuts.
Mr Osborne admits there are going to be tough decisions ahead as he digs deep into public spending.
He could make a start by turning his attention to the billions of pounds wasted in Whitehall.
For instance, there’s the Crown Prosecution Service which prints a million pieces of paper a day.
Or he could find out why it costs £30,000 a year to lock up a convict in some prisons and only £12,000 in others.
Mr Osborne won’t slash the bloated benefits bill any further — but only because the Lib Dems won’t let him.
He’s also facing resistance from at least four Cabinet ministers who say they’ve nowhere left to cut.
Perhaps he should remind them of his mantra: We’re all in this together.

Poppy pride…or posing?

By DAVID WOODING

REMEMBRANCE Sunday is 17 days away and already politicians seem to be racing each other to be first to wear a poppy.

A host of MPs were proudly – and perhaps a little ostentatiously – sporting one in their lapels during Prime Minister’s question time in the Commons today.

They are sold to honour brave troops killed in action since the First World War – and raise millions for the Royal British Legion’s charitable work.

But in recent years, the well-observed tradition seems to have taken on an unfortunate political edge.

Etiquette dictates that the poppy should be worn in the week leading up to Remembrance Sunday – on November 13 this year.

But Labour MPs today stole a march on the Tories with nothing short of a sea poppies on Opposition benches during Prime Minister’s questions in the Commons.

Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham chided: “Not a Tory on the front bench with a poppy.”

He tweeted: “They have been on sale in Parliament for days and large numbers have them. Surely wearing them encourages others.”

Isn’t this all a little unseemly? Nobody is forced to wear a poppy yet 26 million are sold every year raising an estimated £35 million for ex-servicemen, women and their families.

I’m sure that David Cameron and his MPs will all have bought and worn one before he lays a wreath at the Cenotaph next month.

Demanding the PM pins one to his jacket now is a bit like complaining he hasn’t sent his Christmas cards out by mid November.

No doubt nervous TV presenters will be pinning on a poppy fast lest they get a dressing down from righteous MPs.

Twisted

Channel 4 News man Jon Snow fiercely refuses to give in to what he calls the “poppy fascists” and appears on screen with bare lapels all year round.

While some may find his stance a little extreme, many believe it is unfair to criticise MPs for being poppy-free in October.

Mr Cunningham’s followers accused him of a “petty partisan attack” and “twisted point-scoring”.

Amy Jackson declared: “My father spent 37 years in the Army and always taught me to start wearing poppies on November 1.”

Blogger Harry Cole added: “You used the war dead to try to score a point against the government.”

So what is poppy etiquette? A quick check in Debrett’s guide to good manners says poppies can be worn from the end of October to Remembrance Sunday – but adds it is acceptable to wear them from November 1 or just the week leading up to that day.

The Royal British Legion would probably settle for that – and scowl at the blatant politicisation of the biggest event in their calendar. Besides, the vets’ organization hasn’t even launched this year’s poppy appeal yet.

What is your view on the “poppy police” and “poppy etiquette?” Please leave your comments below.

Liam Fox faces lengthy Cabinet exile after damning report

By DAVID WOODING

LIAM Fox’s hopes of a swift Cabinet comeback have been dealt a heavy blow by an official report into his relationship with his Best Man.

A top-level probe delivered a damning verdict on his conduct – finding him guilty of multiple breaches of the ministerial code.

Cabinet secretary Sir Gus O’Donnell’s inquiry found Dr Fox ignored warnings from senior officials about his friendship with ex-flatmate Adam Werritty.

He concludes the minister put his own security at risk – and that of senior military aides – by giving his chum access to his diary.

Ignored warnings: Liam Fox

Dr Fox, 50, quit on Friday after admitting a “blurring” of lines between his professional life and personal loyalty to a friend.

Mr Werritty posed as an unofficial adviser, handing out businesss cards and accompanying the minister on 18 overseas trips in 16 months, despite having no MoD clearance.

But today’s report failed to quell demands for answers to a welter of questions about 34-year-old Mr Werritty’s role.

In his report Sir Gus said: “Dr Fox’s actions clearly constitute a breach of the ministerial code which Dr Fox has already acknowledged.

“This was a failure of judgment on his part for which he has taken the ultimate responsibility in resigning office.”

Sir Gus clears him of making any money out of the friendship or putting national security at risk but ruled:

–         Dr Fox’s behaviour fell short of the standards of conduct required by the ministerial code.

–         His close links with Mr Werritty, particularly the use of business cards, gave the false impression he represented the British government.

–         The minister had kept MoD officials at bay for two pre-arranged meetings attended by his pal.

He recommended tightening of the rules governing links between ministers and civil servants.

Dr Fox, who will make a Commons statement tomorrow, said: “I am pleased that the report makes clear that the two most serious allegations, namely of any financial gain sought, expected or received by myself and any breach of national security, have no basis.”

But it is unlikely that falling on his sword will kill off the controversy, with Labour still demanding further disclosures.

Murky

Shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy said the report only “scratches the surface” of the potential breaches.

He declared: “A ten-page report into 18 months of wrongdoing is a superficial and narrow way for the government to deal with such a deep problem.

“This is a murky business and it has not yet been resolved. Liam Fox apologized in the House of Commons last week, but we still do not know the full truth.”

In the past, talented ministers have returned to government after serving a period of penance on the back benches.

With this row likely to run and run,  Dr Fox could be forced to wait quite some time.

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Liam Fox survives Best Man storm…for now

By DAVID WOODING

LIAM Fox gave his stalkers the slip today – but he’s not out of the woods yet.

The Defence Secretary left a string of questions unanswered in a statement to MPs about his relationship with his Best Man.

Dr Fox (pictured left) revealed close chum Adam Werritty had linked up with him 40 times on overseas trips and at the MoD – but pledged it won’t happen again.

He admitted it had been a mistake to allow the lines between professional duties and personal loyalties to become “blurred”.

But he failed to explain why he apparently ignored warnings from military top brass over his “improper” dealings with 34-year-old Mr Werritty.

Nor did he reveal whether his former rent-free flatmate made any financial gain from acting as a self-styled unofficial adviser.

Dr Fox now faces an extended inquiry by Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O’Donnell, which will report within a fortnight.

But the pressure will continue to mount in the days ahead as Labour turns up the heat. They are likely to focus on a controversial meeting Dr Fox and his pal had with a military equipment salesman in Dubai last June.

Arrogance

Labour accused Dr Fox of “driving a coach and horses through the ministerial code” – and identified at least six breaches.

Shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy said: “We may never know what got the Secretary of State into this mess – arrogance, naivety or hubris.

“This whole crisis is self-inflicted. There have been daily revelations, which barely 36 hours ago he described as baseless. But yesterday he was forced into a partial and belated apology.”

Premier David Cameron said he will not make a final decision on the minister’s future until he has seen the full report on the case. He is no doubt hoping the storm will blow over by then – but if it gets worse he risks looking indecisive.

In his Commons statement, Dr Fox admitted Mr Werritty – who is not a government official and had no security clearance – had accompanied him on foreign trips and been inside the MoD on numerous occasions.

He met him 18 times  on overseas trips and on 22 occasions at the Ministry of Defence in the past 16 months.

Dr Fox insisted his pal received no payment for fixing and attending a controversial meeting with a defence equipment trader inDubaiin June.

But he confirmed he was paid £5,800 for research work while he was his intern

He told MPs: “Mr Werritty was never present at regular departmental meetings. During private meetings we did not discuss either commercial or defence matters.

“He had no access to classified documents, nor was he briefed on classified matters.”

Dr Fox added: “I accept, with the benefit of hindsight, I should have taken great care to ensure a more transparent separation of government, party political and private business and to ensure that meetings were properly recorded to protect myself and government from any suggestion of wrong doing.”

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Liam Fox: His Best Man, the hotel meetings and those emails

By DAVID WOODING

LIAM Fox is fighting for his political life after being accused of lying about his “murky” relationship with a man who falsely claimed to be his adviser.

The embattled Defence Secretary was under mounting pressure as the Prime Minister ordered a probe into the role of Adam Werritty – the minister’s former flatmate and Best man at his wedding.

Liam Fox (left) and Adam Werritty

He has also ordered Whitehall's top civil servant Sir Gus O'Donnell to probe whether he presented a risk to national security and wants a full file on his desk by tomorrow morning.

Mr Werritty, 34, has accompanied Dr Fox on at least one foreign trip - which the Cabinet minister had at first denied - despite having no role in government.

He has visited the MoD 14 times in the past 18 months and handed out business cards bearing the House of Commons logo and describing himself as the minister's "adviser".  He also ran a Right-wing charity from his Commons office.

But the row has deepened as fresh evidence emerges which flies in the face of the minister’s explanation. Dr Fox, 50, claimed his pal had never met any foreign dignitaries. But TV and film evidence clearly show them both shaking hands with the president of Sri Lanka in a London hotel last year.

Dr Fox also ran into trouble after he dismissed talks with a defence equipment dealer in a Dubai hotel last June as  a “chance” meeting.

Emails between Mr Werritty and the businessman surfaced which show the minister’s friend had been trying to fix up a get-together since April.

Now a senior Labour MP has told how Dr Fox had given him a personal assurance that the Dubai meeting was all above board and a senior civil servant was present.

Cameron’s dilemma

Shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy was stunned to learn it was brokered and attended by Mr Werritty and no MoD officials were present. He said:  “Alarm bells should be ringing in Downing Street.”

Mr Murphy told Sky News: “That’s very worrying indeed and this is becoming an increasingly murky situation and we can’t go on like this, with a daily drip-feed of fresh allegations just piling upon the Secretary of State’s head. And we can’t have Downing Street dithering on this – we need a full forensic inquiry.”

The row presents a tough dilemma for the Prime Minister who is desperate to snuff out the row quickly.

Mr Cameron knows that to keep him in his job risks making him look weak – and could lead to a damaging drip-drip of further negative stories.

But to sack him is fraught with political danger because Dr Fox on the back benches could become a rallying point for the disaffected Right-wing of the Tory party, fed up with concessions given to the Lib Dem coalition partners.

Downing Street insists the PM is “fully supportive” of Dr Fox and “genuinely doesn’t want to lose him”.

Former PM John Major, who dealt with sleaze on an almost daily basis in the 1990s, said Mr Cameron risks looking indecisive if he doesn’t act quickly. He told the BBC: “He has to balance natural justice and the truth, rather than gossip and rumour.”

Dr Fox  will be called before the Commons to answer questions about his relationship tomorrow. But he has told the Sunday Telegraph: “I have absolutely no fear of complete transparency in these matters. I think there are underlying issues behind these claims and the motivation is deeply suspect.”

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Labour’s “cheap” plan to boost membership

By DAVID WOODING

LABOUR party chiefs will today invite members of the armed forces to join the party – for just a pound.

Shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy will announce a new cut-price level of membership for brave service men and women who fight for their country.

It is part of a drive to boost grass-roots membership which slumped along with the party’s popularity over the dying months of the last government.

Normal full-membership costs £41 a year but under the new plan, serving soldiers, sailors and airmen will be able to sign up for the same annual fee as a “Young Labour” members. Mr Murphy (pictured) will announced the move at the Labour party conference in Liverpool later today.

The bargain basement fee was dreamed up during the review of the party’s future being overseen by Shadow Welsh Secretary Peter Hain. Its main aim to to reach out to ordinary voters by becoming more relevant. Insiders believe the new £1 membership will help establish Labour as the party of the armed forces.

An insider said: “We welcome service men and women into our ranks and hope this will provide added incentive during these tough times for more of them to come on board.”

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