It’s years past time we challenged the abusive Tory regime of secret courts

Hammering the people: some readers criticise This Site for using an image with a gavel, which is not used in UK courts – but it seems wholly appropriate when describing a secret court system designed to oppress and detain possibly-innocent victims.

Andrew Mitchell may be an arrogant Tory but he is right about this.

I remember when David Cameron first imposed secret courts on the UK. This site wrote against them.

I quoted passages from my brother, the Beast’s, blog:

“The proposal for these secret courts has been compared to the nightmare denials of justice portrayed in Kafka’s novels The Trial and The Castle. These predicted the situation that existed decades later under the Nazis and the Communists.

“During Stalin’s Terror people disappeared, taken from their homes and families by the NKVD as it then was, for trivial offences of Thoughtcrime. Simply remarking that Stalin appeared ill could and did get people arrested for being imperialist and Trotskyite spies engaged in anti-Soviet activities.

“Under the Nazis the phrase was ‘Nacht und Nebel’ – night and fog. Their disappearance into the maze of concentration camps without any statement regarding their whereabouts was deliberately calculated to inspire fear.

“Saddam Hussein operated a similar regime in Iraq. Under Hussein there were a number of laws relating to spying and national security in the Iraqi penal code, which it was illegal even to know about. These laws were invoked to detain and murder political opponents. it was for violation of these codes that the British journalist, Faisal Bazoft, was arrested and then murdered by the Iraqi regime.

“If Cameron’s proposal for such secret courts goes ahead, we will have created the type of justice system against which we fought in the Second World War, and which partly supplied the justification for the wars against Iraq.”

His proposals did go ahead. It should be noted – especially considering the current nominations to the Intelligence and Security committee that will be asked to publish the so-called “Russia Report” on that country’s interference in UK politics – that Chris Grayling was the minister who pushed them through.

So now we have a system that allows ministers to apply for special ‘closed material procedures’ (CMPs) in civil courts when it or its intelligence agencies and forces are being sued. These applications are made on the grounds that open court hearings may turn state secrets into public gossip.

But CMPs may also be employed in habeas corpus claims – the ancient law to ensure that people are not unlawfully detained – meaning UK citizens may be locked up without knowing on what basis, and without the means to contest it properly.

There is also the question of these courts hearing so-called “Investor-State Dispute Settlement” claims – in which corporations sue governments for enacting laws that reduce their profits. Public protest stopped this nation from joining a planned “Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership” to stop the UK from facing such claims!

So while we may understand the government’s reasons for hiding them from us, we may rightly ask why they are taking place at all.

Applications by the government for a court to sit in secret may also be kept secret, meaning the public is prevented from learning about cases that may outrage us all.

The evidence is then kept secret – even from the defendant. The government presents evidence which the defendant can only challenge through a ‘special advocate’ with whom they are not even allowed to communicate.

Do you see how easy it would be for the government to abuse this system?

When Cameron imposed it on us in 2013, he said it would be reviewed in five years – in 2018. This review has not happened.

And the use of secret courts is escalating.

So when Andrew Mitchell demands the long-delayed review, saying these courts are being used to “hide embarrassing evidence of state wrongdoing”, Tory though he is, This Site is on his side.

The case he cites as justification for it is horrific enough:

Two weeks ago a court ruled that a legal challenge brought by two MPs and a human rights group into the involvement of British intelligence in torture and rendition must be heard in secret.

The Conservative David Davis, Labour’s Dan Jarvis and the charity Reprieve are seeking a judicial review of the government’s decision to ditch a promised judge-led inquiry into potential human rights breaches during the “war on terror”.

During an initial hearing it emerged that 15 potential cases of abuses may exist, but a court ruled in late June that a final hearing had to be held in secret for national security reasons, with even the MPs and charity not allowed to be present.

A secret review undertaken by MI6 for the then prime minister Theresa May concluded that “none of these 15 cases presents an extant and unmet investigative obligation” – a form of words that does not rule out torture or rendition involving British intelligence.

Citing the case, Mitchell argued that the government should be “independently and transparently investigating these cases”, about which little else is known, and complained it amounted to a constitutional abuse.

“Open justice is a fundamental part of the UK’s constitution and its heritage,” the backbench MP wrote. “I am concerned that the proliferation of secret courts within the legal system threatens to undermine the foundations of British justice.”

As the review was a statutory requirement – and as it seems clear that secret courts are being used inappropriately – we may also conclude that they are now being used illegally.

The Ministry of Justice says the review will take place “as soon as possible” – which could mean anytime from tomorrow, to sometime, to never.

And all the time, your Tory government continues to use a system that makes the UK as bad as Hussein’s Iraq, Communist Russia and Nazi Germany.

Source: Ex-Tory whip calls for start of delayed review into secret courts | Law | The Guardian

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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One Comment

  1. Jeffrey Davies July 14, 2020 at 12:41 pm - Reply

    Kangaroo court no chance of justice

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