Courts criticism was valid – Clarke22nd May 2012
Criticism over Ken Clarke’s proposals to expand secret hearings into civil courts was correct, the justice secretary has admitted.
Mr Clarke said the Green Paper’s wording could have resulted in “putting a lot of things in secret”.
He did, however, insist that he wishes to banish the fears of doubters later on in the week when he fleshes out the proposals to Parliament.
Following successful damages claims against the government from former Guantánamo Bay detainees, measures which allowed some information to be kept from the public and claimants in the civil trial process were brought forward.
The idea was, however, not supported by civil liberties groups and concerns were raised by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg in a letter on the national security council which was addressed to ministers.
Mr Clarke, speaking on Sky News’ Murnaghan programme, was defensive of the plans’ aims.
He said: “When I announced what I was proposing last October there was no fuss, everybody agreed, particularly as I combined it with tighter parliamentary control of MI5 and MI6.
“No evidence that is given in open court at the moment is going to be given in secret under our proposals, what we’re talking about is evidence which might be given by spies about their sources, their technologies, what they know, none of which is ever given in open court in any country in the world including Britain.”
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