Government loses bid to ban BBC terror interview - Press Gazette

Government loses bid to ban BBC terror interview

The BBC has won a High Court battle over the Government’s refusal to allow it to film and broadcast an interview with a terror suspect who has been detained in the UK for more than seven years without trial.

Two judges said today the case of Babar Ahmad, who has been detained without trial longer than any other British national in modern history, was “highly exceptional”.

Because of its unusual facts, Justice Secretary Ken Clarke’s continued refusal to allow the interview was a “disproportionate interference with freedom of expression” and must be quashed, the judges said.

The decision is a victory for the BBC and home affairs correspondent Dominic Casciani.

Government lawyers indicated that there would be no appeal, and talks would take place about the practicalities of arranging the interview.

Ahmad, a 37-year-old British Muslim, is being held under controversial extradition laws as he fights removal to the United States, where he is wanted for allegedly raising funds for Chechen and Afghan insurgents over the internet.

He strongly denies any involvement with terrorism.

He is being held in a special detainee unit at Long Lartin Prison, Worcestershire, awaiting a European Court of Human Rights ruling on whether he should be extradited.

The High Court was told that a ruling was being prepared “as a matter of urgency”.

Author: Dominic Ponsford

Dominic Ponsford is the editor of Press Gazette