The director of public prosecutions, Ken Macdonald, last night stamped firmly on suggestions floated by the home secretary that the criminal standard of proof might be lowered for terrorist prosecutions.

Mr Macdonald said the rule that criminal charges had to be proved to the higher standard of "beyond reasonable doubt" and not to the lower civil standard - on the balance of probabilities - was "not negotiable". Last February, David Blunkett raised the possibility of a lower standard of proof for terror cases, but dropped the idea in the face of criticism from senior legal figures, including the DPP.

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