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‘Putting government above the law’

The right to a fair trial is under attack.

The Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 allowed the setting up of Special Immigration Appeals Courts.

These meet mainly in secret with only the prosecution and the judge knowing the full evidence against the defendant and the identity of witnesses.

The defendant is not allowed to know the details of some evidence obtained by security services, thus putting paid to the idea of a fair and open trial in such cases.

And now we have the recently introduced Justice and Security Green Paper which proposes similar measures across the whole justice system. It would introduce ‘closed material procedures’, which would allow the government to use evidence against individuals which they would be unable to challenge, or even to see.

Former director of public prosecutions, Ken MacDonald, warned in the Lords on 28 January that such plans threaten ‘to put the government above the law’.

The government has been embarassed recently when evidence of its involvement in torture and rendition has been placed before British courts.

David Polden is the PN news editor.

Topics: Civil Liberties