Former UK shadow Home Secretary wins by-election on civil liberties platform

[JURIST] Former UK shadow Home Secretary David Davis [party profile], who resigned [statement text; JURIST report] his parliamentary position in protest over an anti-terror bill [materials; BBC Q/A] in June, won a forced by-election Friday with almost 72% of the vote. In his acceptance speech [text], Davis promised to stand for civil liberties and oppose what he termed "draconian" security measures:

Today, the people of Haltemprice and Howden have delivered a stunning message to the government ... as our campaign has reverberated across the country. Four weeks ago as Gordon Brown stooped into the gutter to rig the vote on 42 days, Ministers crowed that 69% of people supported 42 days. Today just 36% support it. Four weeks ago, the government touted public support for a range of other draconian measures. Today, 71% support my stand against the attacks on British liberty. And in the House of Lords, the last Head of MI5 savaged the government's 42 day proposal. It now lies in tatters, robbed of any remaining credibility. Along with this government. And that's after just 3 weeks.
Davis had resigned after the UK House of Commons passed an anti-terror bill [JURIST report] that would allow authorities to detain terror suspects without charge for up to 42 days [JURIST news archive]. He said that by resigning and forcing a by-election, in which he ran, he could take the issue to his constituents for public debate. BBC News has more.

Current British law authorizes detention without charge for 28 days [JURIST report], but proponents of the 42-day detention limit have argued that the 28-day limitation endangers national security. Critics of the bill, including Davis, say that it would be an unacceptable abridgment of basic rights. UK Home Secretary Jacqui Smith first proposed a 42-day detention period [JURIST report] in December 2007. The proposal followed statements made in June 2007 by then-UK Home Secretary John Reid calling for longer pre-charge time limits [JURIST report].

 

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