From the BBC Terror detainees win Lords appeal Most of the men are being held at Belmarsh Prison Detaining foreign terrorism suspects without trial breaks human rights laws, the UK's highest court has ruled. In a blow to the government's anti-terror measures, the House of Lords law lords ruled by an eight to one majority in favour of appeals by nine detainees. Most of the men are being held in Belmarsh prison, south London. The law lords said the "draconian" measures were incompatible with European human rights laws and the government must pay the appeal costs. The prison has been dubbed Britain's Guantanamo Bay by civil rights campaigners opposed to the use of emergency anti-terror laws. The detainees took their case to the House of Lords after the Court of Appeal backed the Home Office's powers to hold them without limit or charge. Constitutional importance The government opted out of part of the European Convention on Human Rights concerning the right to a fair trial in order to bring in anti-terrorism legislation in response to the 11 September attacks in the US. Belmarsh - Britain's Guantanamo Bay? Any foreign national suspected of links with terrorism can be detained or can opt to be deported. However those detained cannot be deported if this would mean persecution in their homeland. The case was heard by a panel of nine Law Lords rather than the usual five because of the constitutional importance of the legal challenge. State of emergency Ben Emmerson QC, representing seven of the detainees, said the men had already been in custody for nearly three years on the grounds that they might be supporters of international terrorism. He said they had been given no idea when, if ever, they would be released, had never been formally interviewed and there was no prospect they would ever be put on trial. When the men were first held, they took their cases to the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC). The commission ruled on 30 July, 2002 that the anti-terror act unjustifiably discriminated against foreign nationals as British people could be held in the same way. The Home Office went to the Court of Appeal which overturned the SIAC ruling in October 2002. The court said the legislation was not in breach of the European Convention and opting out was necessary because there was a state of emergency threatening the life of the nation. Wonder what Charles Clarke will do now.