Anti-terror watchdog branded 'naive’ over warning against 'knee jerk’ legislation - report

Posted On: 
25th October 2017

Britain’s anti-terror tsar stands accused of “breathtaking naivety” after he criticised a plan to ban watching extremist speeches online, according to a report.

The Government's fresh crackdown followed June's attack on London Bridge
PA Images

Max Hill, the UK’s chief independent reviewer of terrorism laws, said ministers should avoid “knee-jerk, something-must-be-done lawmaking” in their attempts to crackdown on terror attacks.

His call comes weeks after Amber Rudd vowed to make viewing terror content online illegal –alongside downloading it, which is already legislated for – with a jail term of up to 15 years.

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That announcement followed the London Bridge attack in June, which left eight people dead and prompted Theresa May to declare “enough is enough”.

Speaking in central London, Mr Hill said the Government should reconsider the need for new laws, while suggesting shorter jail terms for some convicted terrorists, according to the Telegraph.

“We do not, and should not, criminalise thought without action or preparation for action,” he said.

“Thought with steps towards action can be terrorism. Thought without action or preparation for action may be extremism, but it is not terrorism.”

His call led to one MP telling the paper that Mr Hill preferred to “give terrorists a cup of tea and a hug”, while a government source accused him of “breathtaking naivety”.

In reference to the Home Secretary’s pledge for prison sentences for those viewing extreme content online, Mr Hill said: “Are two clicks on a link one too many, or will three clicks be required?

“Can an internet user be innocently curious twice, but not three times? The struggle for national security must not be used as a stick to beat down the rights we hold dear. If that were to happen, terrorism would have prevailed.”

Mr Hill questioned whether those who commit “more modest terrorist offences” should receive long jail terms or if such sentences were driven by “political desire”.