Justice and Security Bill
Email Campaign

The Justice and Security Billl seeks to deal with an extremely serious problem. Under current court rules, known as Public Interest Immunity (or PII), national security evidence is excluded from the courtroom. It means that some of the actions of our security and intelligence agencies are not being scrutinised in the courts.

This has become particularly problematic given the rising numbers of compensation claims being brought alleging that the British Government has been involved in the mistreatment of detainees. The Government is now facing around 20 live cases in which national security evidence is central.

The deficiencies of the PII system mean that the claimants in this small number of cases will never have their case properly heard. The public will never ever get an answer as to whether the serious questions raised about the activities of the state have any truth or not. Instead, because the key national security evidence canít be brought before the court, the claim has to be settled by the taxpayer to the tune of potentially millions of pounds. Given that some of the individuals involved in these cases are suspected terrorists there is a high risk that this money could make its way back into funding terrorist activities.

The Government agrees that Closed Material Procedures, or CMPs, clearly do not provide an ideal form of justice. No hearing in which the claimant is unable to hear the evidence disputing his claim ever is. However, they are much less secret than the current PII system which excludes the material at issue entirely. Domestic and international courts have declared CMPís to be fair.

In my view CMPs are quite simply an infinitely preferable way of getting to the bottom of these cases than both the current PII system. At least with a CMP we will have a judge looking at all the facts and providing a judgment. They will also put an end to Government being forced into making pay-outs to former detainees who have not proved their case.

The Government has now ensured that a judge will be entirely responsible for whether a CMP can be held. There will be no question of cover-ups being allowed, and indeed a claimant will be able to request a CMP if they believe that there may be national security evidence which would help their case.

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