UK anti-terrorism plans include university ban on extremists

Terrorists planned Mumbai-style gun attack, says home secretary Theresa May

Britain’s home secretary, Theresa May, announces the plans at a speech at the Royal United Services Institute. Photograph: Toby Melville/Reuters

Britain’s home secretary, Theresa May, announces the plans at a speech at the Royal United Services Institute. Photograph: Toby Melville/Reuters

 

New powers to order universities to ban extremist speakers from their campuses are to be included in the counter-terrorism Bill to be published on Tuesday, British home secretary Theresa May has announced.

The Bill will also place a statutory duty on schools, colleges, prisons and local councils to help prevent people from being drawn into terrorism, she said.

Where organisations consistently fail, ministers will be able to issue directions to them “which will be enforceable by court orders”, Ms May added.

She said: “We are engaged in a struggle that is fought on many fronts and in many forms. It is a struggle that will go on for many years. And the threat we face right now is perhaps greater than it ever has been. We must have the powers we need to defend ourselves.”

The home secretary confirmed that the new counter-terror law would include powers to exclude from the UK British citizens suspected of involvement in terrorism-related activity abroad. Their travel documents will be cancelled and their names placed on no-fly lists for up to two years.

In a speech at the Royal United Services Institute, the defence think tank, Ms May said: “The new powers will help us to prevent radicalisation, strengthen the Tpims [terrorism prevention and investigation measures] regime, give us greater powers to disrupt and control the movements of people who go abroad to fight, improve our border security, make sure British companies are not inadvertently funding ransom payments, close down at least part of the communications data capability gap, and establish a new independent privacy and civil liberties board.

“This legislation is important. The substance is right. The time is right. And the way in which it has been developed is right. It is not a knee-jerk response to a sudden perceived threat. It is a properly considered, thought-through set of proposals that will help to keep us safe at a time of very significant danger,” she said.

Ms May said the police had foiled 40 different terrorist attacks in the last 10 years, including a planned Mumbai-style gun attack, an attempt to bring down a plane, the attempted assassination of an ambassador and the planned murder of members of the armed forces.

Revoked citizenship

She said the Bill would not be treated as emergency legislation but would be fast-tracked through parliament before the general election.

The proposals include:

Reforming the Tpims measures regime so that suspects can be relocated to a different part of the country. The threshold for issuing a Tpim is to be raised to proof of “reasonable balance of probabilities”.

Police are to be given the power to seize passports and travel documents for up to 30 days, from people thought to be leaving the UK to engage in terrorism-related activities. This will apply to UK citizens as well as others.

New temporary exclusion orders for British citizens suspected of being involved in overseas terrorism to prevent them returning to the UK. They will be placed on no-fly lists.

Airlines that fail to supply passenger lists in advance will be prevented from landing in Britain.

A new criminal offence will be created to make it illegal for British insurance companies to provide cover for terrorist ransom payments.

A requirement for internet service providers to retain data on internet protocol addresses to allow individual users to be identified.

A new civil liberties and privacy board will be set up to support the work of David Anderson QC, the independent reviewer of terrorism laws. – (Guardian service)