Friday, 29 March 2013

Coalition Quietly Votes To Bring In Secret Courts

Illiberal? Clegg Helped Push Through Secret Courts
A new generation of secret courts will be established in law within weeks after Lib Dem peers obeyed a three-line coaltion government whip to support bringing secret closed proceedings intor the main civil courts in England and Wales. The proposals will be sent to the Queen for royal assent before she opens a new session of parliament on 8 May.
 Tim Hancock, Amnesty International's UK campaigns director, said "This is a terrible day for British justice. The cherished and vitally important principle that justice must be done and seen to be done has been dealt a serious blow."

Clare Algar, executive director of the human rights charity Reprieve, said: "This is a disastrous result for British justice. Not only are we now facing a wave of secret courts at odds with our centuries-old legal freedoms, but we have not even seen the minor safeguards upheld which would have made them less dangerous.

It is deeply shameful that the government has been allowed to push these plans through parliament, despite the total lack of evidence that they are needed. Secret courts will not make us any safer. They will, however, do irreparable damage to our reputation as a country which respects fair play and the rule of law."

A Labour amendment to allow the secret courts to be convened only if a judge rules that it would be impossible to reach a fair verdict "by any other means" was rejected by the Lib Dems and Tories.

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