May 1 2010
EuroWeenie Court of ‘Justice’ declares that Great Britain’s ban on paying welfare handouts to wives of Muslim terrorist suspects is illegal.
Restrictions on the payment of welfare benefits to wives of terror suspects imposed by Ed Balls when he was a Treasury minister have been ruled illegal by the European court of justice.
The decision follows a challenge to the regime brought by three women whose husbands appear on a UN list of terror suspects who have been linked to al-Qaida, the Taliban and Osama bin Laden. The bank accounts and other assets of those who appear on the UN sanctions list have been frozen under a European Union regulation.
The initial Treasury decision in 2006, endorsed by Balls, ruled that benefit payments to cover basic expenses such as food could be made to the wives of terror suspects as long as certain conditions were met to ensure that their husbands did not benefit. The three conditions included withdrawing only £10 in cash for each member of the household from their personal bank account; sending a detailed monthly account with receipts to the Treasury, and accepting that making cash available to their husbands would be a criminal offence.
The EU’s court, based in Luxembourg, has rejected this interpretation of the rules, saying the objective of the asset freezing regime was to stop them having access to resources to support terrorist activities. The judges said the Treasury was wrong to assume that there was “any danger whatsover” that the benefit payments would be used to support terrorist activities.
The Treasury said the case would now be referred back to the UK supreme court to provide a final ruling: “The government will be considering its response to the ECJ’s judgment,” said a spokesman.
This week’s ruling follows a decision last year by the European court of justice which overturned the legal basis of the application of the asset freezing regime in Britain. Ministers had to introduce emergency legislation in February in order to ensure that the bank accounts of terror suspects, including Abu Qatada, remained frozen. UK GUARDIAN