Cherie warns on anti-terror laws
Booth: "The government ... must act strictly in accordance with the law."
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LONDON, England -- The wife of UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has urged the government not to undermine civil liberties in its response to the terrorist attacks in London.
Cherie Booth QC warned the government against an overly authoritarian reaction which would "cheapen our right to call ourselves a civilized nation."
Speaking in Malaysia as a human rights lawyer, she said: "Nothing I say here could possibly be construed as making light of those horrible acts of violence or of the responsibility imposed on the UK and other governments to keep the public safe, or of the difficult and dangerous task performed by the police and intelligence services."
But she added: "At the same time it is all too easy for us to respond to such terror in a way which undermines commitment to our most deeply held values and convictions and which cheapens our right to call ourselves a civilized nation."
Booth said judges made rulings in a way that taught citizens and government about the "ethical responsibilities" of participating in a true democracy committed to "universal human rights standards."
And she praised the way the House of Lords blocked recent anti-terror legislation which could have seen foreign suspects detained without trial.
"What the case makes clear is that the government, even in times when there is a threat to national security, must act strictly in accordance with the law," she said.
Analysts say Booth's comments could cause discomfort for the prime minister, who has been sympathetic to calls for tighter laws in the wake of the bombings.
Three years ago she caused a storm when she said as long as young people in the Middle East felt they had no hope "but to blow themselves up" you were never going to make progress.
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