Thanks to Charon for spotting the Times story today reporting that both current law officers, Baroness Scotland and Vera Baird, agree with the line taken yesterday by Lord Goldsmith, and feel that the case has not yet been made for a further extension of pre-charge detention of terror suspects beyond 28 days.

I have to say, I’m astonished by this. Unless the Times has somehow got this wrong – and that seems incredible, especially as the line they’re reporting sounds, with its emphasis on what both Law Officers think, an awful lot like a briefing given by the Attorney’s press office – then it’s the most significant indication yet that Gordon Brown’s in serious trouble on this. The Law Officers are prepared to signal publicly their concern about the proposal, with the implication that if pressed this might be a resigning matter. I notice there seems to have been no denial.

The fact that they’re prepared to do this, where Lord Goldsmith wasn’t, may indicate that they’re more prepared to throw their weight around than he was (he said at the Home Affairs committee yesterday that Ray Ban outlet threats weren’t his style). It may show they feel able to do it if they stand together as a pair. And it may show they feel a need to be seen and heard to be independent-minded in order to justify their roles in the post-Goldsmith, post-Iraq era. But it certainly shows Gordon Brown’s perceived weakness and the power these relatively junior ministers think they have in his administration.


I’m beginning to think that, if Gordon presses this, the backbench rebellion may be even greater than it was over the 98 day proposal – Labour backbenchers will have heard and understood this signal, I have no doubt.

I think he’d better reconsider.