Blair could face inquiry into terror vote

Friday, November 11, 2005 British Prime Minister Tony Blair could face a House of Commons inquiry into claims that chief police officers were pressured to support a political agenda during Wednesday's vote to extend detention without charge.

Chief police officers were asked to lobby MPs wavering over the introduction of a controversial new law allowing police to detain a terror suspect for 90 days without charge. Although the proposal was rejected by the House of Commons, the lobbying has provoked criticism from senior members of the opposition Conservative Party, who are pushing for an inquiry into the behaviour of government ministers towards the police and for 'embroiling them in politics'.

Former Tory cabinet minister Peter Lilley said: "Every chief constable knows their job is up for re-selection in the next year or so. That puts great pressure on them."

Home Office minister Hazel Blears denied the claims: "It is entirely proper that the police were there to make their case and for Parliament to consider it."

"Certainly, as a Member of Parliament I would want to have the benefit of the best professional advice I could get before reaching my decision."