House of Lords rejects plans for secret courts

Laworiginally by: The Independent
published: 22 November 2012     

The Government’s plans to allow some courts to sit in secret to hear evidence from spies were in crisis last night after the House of Lords inflicted a series of blows to the scheme. The proposals have provoked a civil liberties storm with critics claiming they will undermine fundamental principles of open justice.

Ministers argue the moves are essential to allow the state to defend itself in civil cases – notably against accusations of being complicit in torture – without having to disclose sensitive intelligence material to claimants.

But Tories joined Labour and Liberal Democrat peers to demand a series of changes to the controversial Justice and Security Bill.

First, they voted by a majority of 100 to allow claimants – and not just the Government – to apply for cases to be heard behind closed doors if they thought secret material could help their case.

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