Howard warns against 'judicial activism'

Michael Howard today warned Britain's judges that "aggressive judicial activism" could put the country's safety from terrorists at risk, and undermine public faith in the justice system. Echoing recent complaints from the prime minister about judicial opposition to anti-terror measures, the Conservative leader repeated his pledge to repeal Britain's Human Rights Act in order to give the government more power to deport extremist Islamist clerics. Mr Howard - like Mr Blair a former lawyer - broke the usual August truce between the parties to launch his attack on the judiciary, and the government's approach to it, both in the Daily Telegraph and on the BBC. Mr Howard cited the law lords' decision last year that the indefinite detention without trial of foreign terror suspects under the 2001 Anti-Terrorism Act contravened the Human Rights Act, and referred to the difficulties the latter act creates for deporting extremists to countries where they may face persecution or torture. He said explicitly that political intervention by judges "could put our security at risk".