Anthony Peto QC: A very un-British Bill - my response to Robert Buckland MP (Conservative Home)

Anthony Peto QC, co-author with Andrew Tyrie MP of the report, ‘Neither Just nor Secure’, published by the Centre for Policy Studies in January 2013, writes in Conservative Home on Monday 4th March 2013, in response to Robert Buckland MP.

To view the full article, please visit the Conservative Home website

“Robert Buckland’s response to my article posted on 25th February  2013 contains as  many misconceptions  and myths as his first. I list some of them below. But first it is important to be clear about what is still wrong with this Bill. Here are two of its most serious flaws.

The first serious flaw

First, the government is resisting the inclusion of words that would ensure that “secret courts” (“Closed Material Procedures” or “CMPs”) would only be used as a last resort. Under the amendments recommended by the Joint Committee on Human  Rights (“JCHR”), passed by the House of Lords,  the court must be satisfied that a fair trial “would not be possible by any other means” before ordering a CMP.

Ken Clarke, in his evidence to the JCHR last week said that he agreed with the “last resort” principle, but the Bill still doesn’t make that clear. The JCHR and the security cleared Special Advocates have pointed out that –

“If the last resort principle is not spelled out, there is a risk that the court will not address its mind to the question whether the case could be tried fairly under existing procedures. There is a risk that CMPs will become the default option and that what was justified as an exceptional procedure will come to be accepted as the norm”

The JCHR is right. If Mr Clarke means what he says, he should concede the “last resort” amendments that have been tabled.”

To view the full article, please visit the Conservative Home website

To read Anthony Peto and Andrew Tyrie and Anthony Peto’s report, ‘Neither Just nor Secure’, please click here

Date Added: Monday 4th March 2013