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Ben Wallace criticises laws preventing terrorists’ capture abroad

Former defence secretary Ben Wallace has condemned the “lunacy” of laws that prevent Britain from carrying out raids abroad to capture terrorist suspects.

Speaking for the first time since he quit his Cabinet role, he said the UK was being forced to kill “enemies of Britain” or leave them to continue plotting.

He told the Telegraph: “When we have a threat to the UK, this lunacy of being unable to render people across borders or arrest people in countries whose police forces are unacceptable, means that we are more often than not forced into taking lethal action than actually raiding and detaining.”

Under international law, missions that could result in the rendition of a suspect – meaning their extrajudicial transfer from one country to another – are not permitted, he said.

He said in his time as defence secretary, he “came across plots” and “took action”, but would have liked to have had more options.

“There are a number of individuals who pose an imminent threat to the UK, who I would prefer to have captured, rather than deal with by a strike,” Mr Wallace said.

“If there was an Isis plot in some Central African country for example, under international law we have the right to take action with or without permission from the host nation, but we couldn’t capture the bad guys – we could only kill them.”

He also said: “I’m not going so far as saying we should scrap the ECHR (European Court of Human Rights), but unless the international human rights bandwagon recognises the world we live in today is transnational, and technology has enabled like never before, far from guarding people’s rights, we’ll drive people to take more extreme measures.

“If you care about human rights, then you need to update yourself, because otherwise the option is, they’re dead. Surely you want them to have a trial in front of an independent judiciary and jury?”

Mr Wallace announced in July that he would resign from the role. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak replaced him with Grant Shapps last month.