High Court overturns filming ban by Justice Secretary
THE BBC will be given the chance to film Britain’s longest held-without-charge prisoner after a High Court ruling reversed a ban imposed by the Justice Secretary.
Babar Ahmad has been in prison since August 2004 on terror-related charges. He has never been charged or faced trial in this country and denies any wrongdoing.
The 38-year-old is fighting extradition to the US, which accuses him of fundraising for Chechen and Afghan insurgents on the internet.
In November 2011, over 140,000 signed an official government e-petition in support of his case, which led to two Parliamentary debates on the issue.
The BBC had requested an interview with Mr Ahmad but it was denied by Justice Secretary Ken Clarke.
But the High Court overturned the decision because of the exceptional nature of Mr Ahmad’s case.
Mr Justice Singh said the decision to refuse permission to film Mr Ahmad was wrong and an interview had to be allowed.
Ashfaq Ahmad, father of Babar Ahmad, who has campaigned for his son’s release welcomed the ruling.
“My son, Babar Ahmad, has been held in prison without charge for over seven years. I am pleased that the High Court has ruled that there is exceptional public interest in Babar’s case and said that the BBC should be allowed to film him in prison,” he said.
“Other people facing extradition to the US, such as the NatWest three and Gary McKinnon, have been allowed full access to the media to tell the public the truth about their ordeals and our flawed extradition laws. I urge Mr Clarke to listen to the public and not to appeal this decision. After all, what has the Government to fear from what Babar has to say?”
Simon Creighton of Bhatt Murphy solicitors, who represented Mr Ahmad as an interested party in the proceedings added: “My client is delighted that the court has recognised the right of freedom of speech also encompasses the right of the general public to be properly informed.
“Mr Ahmad has not been charged with any crime in this country but has spent the best part of a decade in prison. There is simply no justification for preventing the BBC from speaking to him about his experiences.”