PM meets with security chiefs

Tony Blair holds talks with intelligence officials
Tony Blair holds talks with intelligence officials

Tony Blair will today hold talks with police and intelligence chiefs to discuss what extra powers are needed to effectively safeguard Britain against terrorism.

The prime minister is expected to re-open the debate on using phone intercept evidence in court during the meeting, which follows the London bombings earlier this month.

Conservative leader Michael Howard raised the issue during prime minister's question time yesterday, pressing his belief that wire tap evidence should be made admissible in court.

Mr Blair replied that he personally was in favour of using such evidence but had previously been advised by the security services against it, partly for fear that secret methods could be exposed.

"My own view has always been that if we possibly can use intercept evidence, we should because of the obvious value it can provide in certain cases," he told MPs.

"The difficulty is that up to now we have been advised by the security services that the disadvantages outweigh the benefits. However, I think in the light of what has happened, it is obviously sensible to go back and consult them again."

On the broader issue of tackling terrorism, the prime minister stressed that action should be taken in a number of "related spheres".

This included tightening legislation so those preaching and inciting hatred could be deported, working with other governments in taking international action and working with the British Muslim community.

Yesterday, home secretary Charles Clarke announced the setting up of a database of international figures who provoke and promote terrorism that could be used by immigration officials to prevent people from entering Britain.