The Lords Must Halt This Draconian Plan

Daily Mail (London), November 20, 2012 | Go to article overview

The Lords Must Halt This Draconian Plan


NOBODY believes more fervently than the Mail in the importance of protecting members of the security services who risk their lives for our country.

Nor is anyone more appalled to see terrorist suspects granted huge compensation payments, agreed out of court because the Government believes contesting their claims in public would put witnesses or their contacts in danger.

But as this paper has passionately argued, security considerations can be no justification for the draconian clampdown on open court hearings proposed in a Bill now going through the Lords.

On rare occasions, there may be reasons for hearing some evidence in secret - as the existing law permits.

There may even be an argument (though nobody has made it convincingly) for allowing truly exceptional civil actions to be tried wholly behind closed doors, with claimants represented by security-vetted Special Advocates.

But what is 100 per cent clear is that if any such decisions are to be made, they should be left to the discretion of judges - not to the diktat of the Government, as the Bill effectively proposes. …

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