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Secret Trial should be last resort

The Government proposals to extend the use of secret trials in cases where there evidence may breach national security go against the UK’s traditions of openness and fairness.

In the report on the Justice and Security Green Paper, the parliament’s joint committee on human rights says the paper fails to justify a change in the current law, and all other options should be explored before the government resorts to trials held in secret.

It also calls on the government to bring forward legislation to clarify how ‘public interest immunity’, this refers to the allowance of sensitive material to be protected from disclosure, should be applied to cases involving national security.

The Green Paper has arisen from the case of the former Guantanamo Bay inmate who applied to English courts for compensation. The government was unable to defend the claim as it felt that disclosing material would have risked national security. So, the paper on extending ‘closed material procedures’, which was published in October, was an attempt to avoid such situations arising in the future.

Swain & Co. feels that these proposals would have a considerable impact on the reporting of matters of public interest which could reduce the public trust in the justice system by breaching human rights. Government plans to provide a cast iron guarantee that it would not disclose shared evidence in a UK court does not support the rule of law.  Secret trials should be the last resort.

At the heart of the work we do here at Swain & Co. are our clients’ human rights. All the areas of law we practice could be said to contain Human Rights elements. Areas relevant to Human Rights issues include:

  • Prisoners rights
  • Provision of medical treatment
  • Detention under the Mental Health Act
  • Right to family life
  • Local Authority cutbacks
  • Closure of care homes
  • Inhuman and degrading treatment

If you think your human rights have been breached, call Swain & Co. now on 0800 0351 999.

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