Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation

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The Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation is an independent person, appointed by the Home Secretary and by the Treasury for a renewable three-year term and tasked with reporting to Parliament on the operation of counter-terrorism law in the UK. The current Reviewer is David Anderson Q.C.


The principal functions of the post are to report annually to Parliament on the operation of the Terrorism Act 2000 and Part I of the Terrorism Act 2006,[1] the Terrorist Asset-Freezing Act 2010[2] and the Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Act 2011.[3]

One-off "snapshot" reports are also produced, at the request of the Government or on the Reviewer's own initiative. Examples are the reports into the definition of terrorism (2007) Operation Pathway (2009) and Operation GIRD (2011). All reports since 2001 are available on the Independent Reviewer's website.[4]


Reviews of the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Acts and the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Acts were carried out at various times between 1978 and 1984 by Lord Shackleton, Earl Jellicoe and Sir George Baker. In 1984 an annual review was instituted, in order better to inform the annual renewal debates that were then required.

As explained to the House of Lords by Home Office Minister Lord Elton, the reviewer's function was to look at the use made of the statutory powers relating to terrorism and to consider, for example, whether any change in the pattern of their use needed to be drawn to the attention of Parliament. The reviewer was to have access to all relevant papers, including sensitive security information and ministerial correspondence. He or she would not be a judge, but "a person whose reputation would lend authority to his conclusions, because some of the information which led him to his conclusions would not be published".[5]

Between 1984 and 2001, annual reports were produced by Viscount Colville and J.J. Rowe Q.C. On 11 September 2001, a few hours before the attacks on the World Trade Center, Lord Carlile of Berriew C.B.E. Q.C. was appointed as the independent reviewer of terrorism legislation. The role was first put on a statutory basis in relation to control orders under the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005. Lord Carlile held the position for more than nine years, until he was replaced by David Anderson Q.C. on 21 February 2011.


The distinctiveness of the Independent Reviewer's role has been said to lie in a combination of two factors: complete independence from Government, coupled with unrestricted access to classified material.[6] These factors in themselves are no guarantee of influence. Past recommendations of the Independent Reviewer have however often been accepted by Government, as may be seen from the academic literature[7] and from the responses to the Independent Reviewer's reports that are published on the Reviewer's website.[8]


  1. ^ Terrorism Act 2006, section 36
  2. ^ Terrorist Asset-Freezing &c. Act 2010
  3. ^ Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures Act 2011, section 20
  4. ^
  5. ^ Hansard HL Deb 8 March 1984 vol 449 col 405
  6. ^ D.Anderson, The independent review of terrorism legislation [2011] EHRLR 543-550
  7. ^ e.g. C.P. Walker, Terrorism and the Law, OUP 2011
  8. ^