Secret evidence ‘ruled out for inquests’30th May 2012
Officials have announced that inquests will not be granted powers to hear evidence in secret.
The call came under the newly published Justice and Security Bill, which outlined powers for sensitive evidence to be heard in secret in civil courts in some cases.
The new rules mean that when national security is an issue in a civil case there is a chance sensitive intelligence could be heard in secret, known as closed material proceedings (CMP).
But this will only be the case in civil court cases where national security is an issue.
It had been thought the same powers would be granted for inquests – however officials suggested this will not be the case.
Inquests have been removed from the CMP remit in a concession to campaigners opposed to the idea.
Justice Secretary Ken Clarke said: “We have consulted and listened to many critics of our original plans and have made substantial changes.
“Protecting the public cannot come at the expense of our historic freedoms. That principle is absolutely right and has guided the Government’s response.
“The Bill now ensures that no evidence given openly in court at the moment can be given in secret in future, and gives the judge the final decision about whether any evidence at all can be heard in closed session.
“Only civil cases involving national security evidence will be affected. The proposals were never intended to apply to criminal cases.”
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