ONE by one, bad decisions made by Tony Blair and his close ministers in the final years of his premiership are being changed or amended by the Brown administration. The latest concerns the readiness of Britain to take in five British residents who have been imprisoned by the United States in Guantanamo Bay without charge for up to five years. Although they had lived legally in Britain with homes and family before being arrested by the Americans in the aftermath of 9-11, they had not yet become British citizens and Tony Blair used this as legal grounds to refuse to intercede on their behalf with the Americans for their release.

Imprisonment in Guantanamo is not something which should be treated as if the terms governing it are in any way similar to legal procedures in most Western nations. Although the numbers incarcerated there have been reduced there are still almost 400 prisoners languishing without any prospect of release or trial. The nearest that Mr Blair ever got to criticising this deplorable place was to describe it as an anomaly. Mr Brown and his Foreign Secretary David Milliband are not bandying words but taking action to get the release of any remaining British-connected prisoners. On their return to Britain these five prisoners will be subject to scrutiny by British security services but unless there is any evidence to justify restrictions on them they will be free to resume their normal lives. It should never have taken so long.