UK terror law probe stresses 'safeguards' amid MI5 plot claims

Chief spy: Tech firms have ‘responsibility’ to share info

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Blighty's domestic intelligence agency MI5 foiled a number of life-threatening terrorist plots over the last 12 months, underlining the need "for good intelligence and strong anti-terrorism laws, accompanied by proper safeguards."

This was the conclusion of the watchdog report by the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, David Anderson QC.

The report follows comments from MI5 head Andrew Parker this morning on the BBC's Today Programme, claiming that terrorist plotting against Britain is at its most intense for three decades.

Parker said that new technologies were posing ever-greater challenges to his agency as he argued that tech firms such as Facebook and Twitter had a "responsibility" to share information.

According to the report by Anderson, the number of UK-linked individuals who are involved in, or have been exposed to, terrorist training and fighting is higher than it has been at any point since the 9/11 attacks in 2001.

However, it said that ten years on from the 7/7 bombings "only two people have been killed by terrorists in Great Britain." Over the last 12 months charges have been brought that relate to five life-threatening terrorist operations, he said.

But he said in Northern Ireland progress towards a post-conflict society is far from complete, with three security-related deaths since February 2015, 71 shooting incidents and 44 bombing incidents, together with 49 casualties from paramilitary style assaults, he said.

For every one attack, said Parker, three or four others have been stopped from coming to fruition.

"In the circumstances, the need for good intelligence and strong anti-terrorism laws, accompanied by proper safeguards, is surely self-evident," concluded Anderson.

He warned that surveillance measures in the forthcoming Counter Extremism Bill could risk "provoking a backlash in affected communities" if the measures introduced are seen to be too draconian. ®


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