Sunday, 10 March 2013

Secret Courts

A Fair, Free and Open Society

“The very first sentence of the Liberal Democrats' constitution states that they exist to build a 'fair, free, and open society'. The vote in favour of secret courts is an attack on the heart and soul of the party." Dinah Rose QC quoted in the Guardian

"The right to a fair hearing, and the right to open justice, are among the most fundamental of all our basic constitutional rights. I just cannot see what purpose is served by the party, if it is prepared to support the bill. I have therefore decided, with great regret, to resign my party membership." ibid

An elemental part of our justice system is that an accused should know and see the evidence of their alleged wrong-doings. This will not happen in ‘security’ cases. Evidence will be presented in secret to the Judge which the defendant does not know about. Without this knowledge there is no chance of rebuttal or contradiction - for instance the evidence may be plain wrong or mistaken. Without challenge it is accepted as fact. This used to happen a lot in the Middle Ages when guilt by association was enough to be burnt at the stake. 

Our security services did not cover themselves with glory in the Blair years. Sexing up dodgy dossiers; colluding with the Bush regime over rendition and even sending back opponents of the tyrant Gaddaffi to be tortured by his goons. This latter disgrace was only discovered by accident when letters from our secret services were found in Libya after Gaddaffi’s fall. It is precisely this sort of shameful embarrassment which would be covered up by this legislation. ‘National Security’ would be invoked when the reality was ‘national scandal.’  

Kenneth Clarke, who has been piloting this egregious piece of legislation through Parliament, asks us to trust him and Ministers in the future. Recent experience tells us this is too much to ask. With many good reasons we do not trust our government or our security services. Would the Hillsborough revelations have come to light? Bloody Sunday? Birmingham 6? Guildford 4? Or would all of these have been covered by ‘national security - the catch all of tyrants and despots everywhere? 

And as for the Liberal Democrats, they seem so enamoured by being in government they have lobotomised their principles. 

Charmless, gutless, unprincipled stooges. 

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