'Four major plots have been foiled since 7/7'


Last updated at 09:04 14 August 2006

John Reid warned fresh attacks on Britain were 'highly likely' yesterday as he confirmed the Government is to revive controversial plans to hold terror suspects for 90 days without charge.

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The Home Secretary said at least four 'major plots' had been foiled since last year's London bombings and revealed police were investigating around two dozen more.

He conceded that members of the latest alleged terror ring could still be 'out there' - despite the best efforts of police.

'Although I think we have the main suspects of this particular plot, I have to be honest and say there could be others out there - perhaps people we don't know, perhaps people involved in other plots,' said Mr Reid. 'So the threat of a terrorist attack in the UK is still very substantial.'

Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and Mr Reid are all in favour of raising the 28- day limit on holding terror suspects and want to put the issue back on the agenda when MPs return from their summer break.

They believe the foiled aircraft bomb plot has strengthened the case for 90 days and the idea has the support of the public and police.

A similar attempt ended in failure for the Prime Minister last November when 49 Labour MPs defied the party whip, forcing the 'compromise' figure of 28 days. Mr Reid warned of 'awful, terrible consequences' if police are not able to intervene early enough to lock up suspects.

'When we come back to that, I hope we will remember the police and security services say they need up to 90 days,' he said.

The Home Secretary - who has his sights on the Labour leadership - has also been accused of seeking to make political capital out of last week's events.

Leaked documents show he altered a keynote speech to attack Al Qaeda 'fascists' hours before the raids. Mr Reid's aides have suggested the Home Secretary had taken control of the crisis even though John Prescott is supposed to be in authority.

Sources close to Mr Prescott said he was 'bemused and saddened' that the Reid camp would try to make political capital out of the crisis.

Mr Reid's comments about a 90-day detention limit will anger Labour MPs, who say it breaches civil liberties.

Sources close to the Chancellor say he is also 'convinced' tougher powers are needed and will make it a priority if he becomes Prime Minister.

Mr Brown believes the 28-day period does not give police enough time to investigate - particularly cases involving international terror networks.

But the Chancellor wants to appease Labour backbenchers by installing extra safeguards, such as an independent watchdog who can question security chiefs and greater powers of review for judges.

The police and the Government were sharply criticised by the Home Affairs Select Committee earlier this year for failing to explain their case.

The committee said recent cases did not justify a longer period, but added: 'The 28-day limit may well prove inadequate in the future.'

Shadow Home Secretary David Davis said: 'We are not aware of suspects being held more than 14 days, let alone the full 28-day limit.

'The argument for 90 days, which is based around decoding data on computer records, is incorrect because withholding the codes is already illegal so if they wanted to they could charge, hold and convict a suspect on that law as it is'.

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