The truth is that, even in the case of terrorist suspects, you can only be detained by the police without charge for 4 days. There is currently a huge running controversy in France due to the fact that Sarkozy wants to extend it to 6 days. Sarkozy was indeed justifying his proposals last Monday by saying “look in the UK, they have 14 days!” The rule of law applies even in France if not Guantanamo, or Britain – if Blair gets his way.
UPDATE: Why was Sarkozy’s trip to Downing Street private? According to my man at the Elysée, the Sarkozy camp had briefed French journalists based in London about the meeting more than a week ago, saying it was 100% sure. The Elysée was unamused by the young pretender meeting the perfidious Blair, hence the bizarre fig-leaf claim by Tom Kelly (PMOS) that it was a “private meeting”. Which is an improvement on the FCO’s Downing Street spin liason’s claim to lobby journalists that there was no meeting. The FCO, as is traditional, ever-sensitive to the dignity of France. The Elysée is putting it about that the meeting was cancelled. Guido would appreciate any insights to the usual places.
UPDATE II: There is another version of the Sarkozy story rolling around; the meeting with Sarkozy was confirmed several weeks ago with Blair. But suddenly, Blair decided to meet Chirac (last Friday) in Paris. It was the first slap for Sarkozy (his staff were furious). Then the public meeting was cancelled. In a very uncomfortable situation (regarding the European presidency) Blair needs France’s help. He would like to avoid repeating the dispute of last June, and chose to cancel the Sarkozy meeting by himself – without any order coming from the Elysée. According to this version, Sarkozy is a liar.
Of course, that version is not true. Blair actually rang Sarkozy on Saturday, to explain to him that he had to cancel the appointment, Sarkozy’s staff spent two frantic days to get, at the last minute, a private meeting. On Monday morning the French media in London were not even sure that the appointment would take place. So that’s why the lobby were wrong footed by Downing Street.