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Lord Carlile: 40 Years of Terrorism Legislation Reviews

13 March @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

With returning IS fighters and uncertainty over Brexit, concerns surrounding human rights, civil liberties and national security have never been greater. Is our current terrorism legislation fit for purpose? Are our national efforts to prevent radicalisation working? Should we introduce new powers to curb the return of British-born terrorists? Lord Carlile will analyse these critical questions as he explores his 10-year experience as the government’s Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation.

By kind invitation of Suella Braverman MP, the Henry Jackson Society is delighted to invite you to join Lord Carlile of Berriew CBE QC and Emma Fox for a panel discussion about 40 Years of terrorism legislation reviews.



Lord Carlile of Berriew CBE QC has held a number of judicial roles, including Deputy High Court Judge and Chair of the Competition Appeal Tribunal. He was the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation from 2001-11, and subsequently awarded the CBE for services to national security. He is a former Freedom of Information Commissioner. Lord Carlile has written numerous reports on counter terrorism issues and he has conducted 3 major reviews connected with child safeguarding including writing ‘Too Serious a Thing’, a comprehensive review of the safety of children under the NHS in Wales. He writes frequently for the print media, and is a frequent broadcaster on the law and national security.



Emma Fox is a Research Fellow in the Centre on Radicalisation and Terrorism. Her work specialises on UK extremist networks and their exploitation of institutions within civil society. She was previously the Director of Student Rights – analysing the vulnerability of students to extremism within Higher Education. As Student Rights Director, Emma published the ‘Extreme Speakers and Events: 2017/18’ and ‘Profiting from Prejudice: How Mend’s ‘IAM’ Campaign Legitimised Extremism’ reports.  Her work has been published across the national media; including in The Daily Telegraph and The Times.






On the 14th March, the Henry Jackson Society was delighted to host our latest event, “Lord Carlile: 40 Years of Terrorism Legislation Reviews.” Lord Carlile of Berriew CBE QC, former Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation and Freedom of Information Commissioner, and Henry Jackson Society Centre on Radicalization and Terrorism Research Fellow Emma Fox discussed the place of terrorism laws in British society today. The event was chaired by Suella Braverman MP.

Suella Braverman MP began the event by discussing her connection to the topic at hand. As a former barrister and member of the Joint Committee on the Draft Investigatory Powers Bill, she strongly believes in strengthening national security measures. In the UK, terrorism has been consistent in occurring, but its methodology has evolved over time. This begs the question, are the current laws fit for purpose? Do we need new laws regarding British citizens who go abroad to fight in extremist groups? The British people may need to consider these questions in light of recent situations and discourse.

Lord Carlile explained that it was important to understand how he became the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation. On the morning of September 11, 2001, he received a call from the Home Secretary asking him to take the role. After some consideration, Lord Carlile stated he decided to take it. Then, just hours later, he received the news regarding the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York City; this changed the nature of Lord Carlile’s work, and he explained he would spend about 170-180 days per year working on terrorism legislation. In order to avoid compromising his independence, he would work outside of the Home Office as much as possible, unless the material he was reading was unable to leave the building due to classification. Additionally, Lord Carlile explained that he joined many on-the-ground operations in order to compliment his knowledge of anti-terrorism legislation on paper.

Lord Carlile then went on to point out that the role of Independent Reviewer has inexcusably been vacant for the past several months. Lord Carlile highlighted the fact having an Independent Reviewer would have almost certainly made the government’s handling of the recent Shamima Begum case much smoother, as the Reviewer could have gone through the laws and similar cases, as well as have likely handled questions from the media.

In his concluding remarks, Lord Carlile explained that the Independent Reviewer balances helping the government and criticizing it. He also voiced his support of the Prevent Duty, and argued that Control Orders should be reinstated as a mechanism to monitor potential terrorists. Lastly, in words to the next Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation, Lord Carlile said to be scared of no one, be unafraid to stand up to even credible organizations, and remain credible and on the public stage.

Emma Fox also brought up the Shamima Begum case’s importance in shaping the focus on terrorism. Particularly, what are the factors? She pointed out the fact that the UK is the country in the West with the most terrorist attacks and with the most fatalities due to a diversity of ideologies: Islamic extremism, the far right, and a moderate rise in the far left. Especially when discussing the prevention of youth radicalization, it is important to acknowledge the relevance of socialization with family and friends. Additionally, speakers at higher education campuses can be a threat of radicalization. Fox gave an example of one speaker at a university being linked to carrying out a terrorist attack overseas. It is okay to be a critic of the Prevent Duty, but there is a line which can be crossed in which genuine criticism is overcome by more sinister interests. Overall, Fox concluded, the Prevent Strategy is still necessary.

The event was followed by an in-depth Q & A session.


Committee Room 10, House of Commons
London, SW1A 0AA United Kingdom


Henry Jackson Society
+44 (0) 20 7340 4520


Lord Carlile


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