Outlawing Iran's IRGC as terrorist organisation would have 'no benefit', UK watchdog claims

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi (left) visiting the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) navy base in Bandar Abbas (Iranian Presidency/AFP via Getty)
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi (left) visiting the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) navy base in Bandar Abbas (Iranian Presidency/AFP via Getty)

Outlawing Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organisation will have no practical benefit, the Government’s terror watchdog has warned.

Jonathan Hall KC, the independent reviewer of terrorist legislation, said that new powers capable of dealing with “malign Iranian activity” had already been passed by Parliament last year and there was no precedent for proscribing part of another nation’s state.

He added that such a step had not been taken even in response to the Russian Novichok attack in Salisbury in 2017 and that Britain still had to deal with Iran despite its attack on Israel and conduct elsewhere in the world.

Mr Hall’s comments follow an admission by the Health Secretary Victoria Atkins that the possible proscription of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps was under review following the weekend drone and missile barrage fired at Israel by Iran.

The Home Office security minister Tom Tugendhat was reported on Monday to be in favour of the step, which was also backed in a report by the Policy Exchange think tank.

It said the change, which would make it a terrorist offence to invite or provide support for the IRGC, would “effectively criminalise” any contact between it and people in this country.

But Mr Hall told the Evening Standard that he believed the unprecedented step would have no impact.

“Functionally, proscription is unlikely to have any practical benefit,” he said.

“No state, or component of a state, has ever been declared by the Government to be a a terrorist or capable of carrying out a terrorist act - not even when a nerve agent was used by the Russia on the streets of Salisbury.

"Since the UK has to deal with Iran, the question is why make this unique change to government policy? What’s more, there is now a completely new set of tools under the National Security Act 2023 for dealing with state threats, some of which will have been crafted with malign Iranian action firmly in mind.”

The debate about outlawing the IRGC, which has blamed for fomenting instability in the Middle East and engaging in terrorist activity elsewhere, came amid heightened security fears across Europe because of Iran’s attack and fears of a retaliatory strike prompting a full-scale conflict.

France’s interior minister Gerald Darmanin has already announced that security at synagogues and Jewish schools will be stepped in his country and similar precautions, including appeals for public vigilance, are anticipated in Britain and elsewhere.