LONDON, Apr 1 (Reuters) A key British government adviser on security laws said today police should apologise to four innocent men who were held under anti-terrorism powers for two days before being released.
The four were arrested at Stafford General Hospital in central England on Wednesday night after staff became suspicious about their behaviour when they arrived to visit a fifth man who was ill and had been admitted earlier.
The men were held until yesterday, when Queen Elizabeth paid a visit to the town, before being freed without charge.
Lord Carlile, the UK's independent reviewer of counter-terrorism laws, said the Chief Constable of Staffordshire Police should now issue an apology and hold an inquiry.
''People should not be arrested under the Terrorism Act unless there is a real terrorism issue,'' he told the BBC.
''The police have a wide range of powers enabling them to arrest people for suspicion of crime or suspicion of illegal immigration.'' Staffordshire's Assistant Chief Constable, Suzette Davenport, thanked the men, aged 24 to 30, for their ''help and understanding'' after they were freed without charge yesterday.
''Our inquiries have revealed no links with any incident of terrorism or any other type of crime,'' she said in a statement.
She added the police faced the difficult task of balancing the rights of an individual and protecting the wider community.
A police spokeswoman said today the force would review Carlile's comments.
''There will be a meeting between the families, the independent advisory group members and the police on Monday,'' she added.
REUTERS DKS BST2937