Coalition Britain 2012: Unfair legal aid cuts followed by a North Korean approach to justice

Mike Morgan-Giles reports on government plans for ‘secret courts’, and the use of secret evidence, on the grounds of “national security”.

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“Not only must Justice be done; it must also be seen to be done” – these were the wise words of Gordon Hewart, the seventh Lord Chief Justice of England, back in 1924. It’s a phrase known and understood by many, and for good reason.

Statue-of-Justice-Old-BaileyAnd yet the justice secretary, Ken Clarke, supposedly a more liberal member of the Cabinet, appears ready to abandon such a reasonable principle of law.

The Ministry of Justice has recently published a green paper (pdf) on using secret evidence to defend itself without making the evidence public, with the argument that doing so would threaten national security.

David Davis MP, the former shadow home secretary, however, points out that such an approach is a “fundamental failure of justice”, associated with regimes such as North Korea.

Ironically, the government’s own impact assessment (pdf) on introducing the secret evidence proposals states it could lead to a

“…higher risk of potential security breaches due to a larger number of individuals accessing sensitive information [and] any potential breaches may impose substantial costs to UK security.”

While the government will continue to maintain the proposals are to protect the methods spies use to protect our national security, another reason is far more likely. Rather more so is the likelihood that the UK and/or its allies are illegally failing to uphold human rights in their interrogation techniques and want to cover these practices up.

 


See also:

New report warns legal aid cuts will pile pressure on MPs’ surgeries 14 Mar 2012

Spotlight shone on legal aid cuts as Clarke urged to think again 9 Mar 2012

North Korea: What Kim Jong-un should do 23 Dec 2011

North Korea: The challenges facing Kim Jong-un 20 Dec 2011

Opening up the courts to cameras will open up justice 8 Sep 2011


 

Indeed, Reprieve, an organisation committed to protecting human rights, says the green paper:

“…will not stop these abuses from happening – rather it will simply help to cover them up when they do.”

Ken Clarke cited the case of Binyam Mohamed as someone who had successfully sued because evidence could not be provided to oppose his claims. However, as files obtained by Wikileaks showed, evidence against Mr Mohamed was obtained by waterboarding and he himself signed a confession under duress.

The Parliamentary joint human rights committee has since heard from John Wadham, legal director of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, that green paper proposals were:

“…a fundamental departure from our common law principles.”

More worryingly, though, the government impact assessment (pdf) went on to add the proposals could lead to the public having:

“… resentment or a reduction in confidence in court processes… and unwillingness to participate in jury service.”

So in less than two years it appears the legal system on which people came to rely upon is being systematically dismantled, with the proposed cutting of the legal aid budget another feature of the worrying changes.

It appears we are reaching an era where the poor and vulnerable have less and less protection under the law, whilst the rich maintain the ability to pay for the best legal support money can buy.

For justice to continue to be seen to be done – and indeed public confidence to be maintained – these North Korean style proposals must be consigned to the shredder.

 


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24 Responses to “Coalition Britain 2012: Unfair legal aid cuts followed by a North Korean approach to justice”

  1. dsugg

    Coalition Britain 2012: Unfair legal aid cuts followed by a North Korean approach to justice: //t.co/xz3gjtJi by @mgonthemike

  2. Liza Harding

    Coalition Britain 2012: Unfair legal aid cuts followed by a North Korean approach to justice: //t.co/xz3gjtJi by @mgonthemike

  3. Pulp Ark

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  4. Patron Press - #P2

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  5. leftlinks

    Left Foot Forward – Coalition Britain 2012: Unfair legal aid cuts followed by a North Korean… //t.co/d1prCsKS

  6. Michael

    Coalition Britain 2012: Unfair legal aid cuts followed by a North Korean approach to justice I Left Foot Forward – //t.co/o5WAoslw

  7. BevR

    Coalition Britain 2012: Unfair legal aid cuts followed by a North Korean approach to justice //t.co/QXlJgGgN #nhs #workfare #democracy

  8. MyProLaw

    Coalition Britain 2012: Unfair legal aid cuts followed by a North … //t.co/hWev6osM

  9. Liz K

    Frm earlier this morning, read @mgonthemike’s report on Ken Clarke’s North Korean-style plans for secret courts: //t.co/7V9NJr4X

  10. arthur jordan

    RT @leftfootfwd: Coalition Britain //t.co/qwae79V9

  11. Mark Howard

    RT @leftfootfwd: Coalition Britain 2012: Unfair legal aid cuts followed by a North Korean approach to justice //t.co/XMkcCxFq

  12. Daniel Pitt

    Coalition Britain 2012: Unfair legal aid cuts followed by a North Korean approach to justice: //t.co/xz3gjtJi by @mgonthemike

  13. H. O.

    RT @leftfootfwd: Coalition Britain 2012: Unfair legal aid cuts followed by a North Korean approach to justice //t.co/7dw0uYxO

  14. TheCreativeCrip

    Coalition Britain 2012: Unfair legal aid cuts followed by a North Korean approach to justice I Left Foot Forward – //t.co/o5WAoslw

  15. Daniel Pitt

    Coalition's totalitarian #legalaid cuts reveal a disingenuous approach to justice //t.co/ferQWH9e #wrb #democracy

  16. Nemesis Republic

    Coalition's totalitarian #legalaid cuts reveal a disingenuous approach to justice //t.co/ferQWH9e #wrb #democracy

  17. Thomas Hemingford

    Coalition's totalitarian #legalaid cuts reveal a disingenuous approach to justice //t.co/ferQWH9e #wrb #democracy

  18. Foxy52

    Coalition's totalitarian #legalaid cuts reveal a disingenuous approach to justice //t.co/ferQWH9e #wrb #democracy

  19. Stealth

    Coalition's totalitarian #legalaid cuts reveal a disingenuous approach to justice //t.co/ferQWH9e #wrb #democracy

  20. Anne Corris

    Coalition's totalitarian #legalaid cuts reveal a disingenuous approach to justice //t.co/ferQWH9e #wrb #democracy

  21. Mike Morgan-Giles

    Article for @leftfootfwd yesterday on government proposals for 'North Korean' style #justice in UK – //t.co/y5b0i0t3

  22. Mike Morgan-Giles

    Positive if government alter plans for 'secret justice' – article for @Leftfootfwd on why – //t.co/RnxRAFoo #NorthKoreanjustice

  23. Mike Morgan-Giles

    Government's proposals for secret courts published today- article for @LeftFootFwd on the importance of open justice – //t.co/RnxN35nu

  24. Look Left – The evil of Assad, u-turns galore and the failure of austerity | Left Foot Forward

    […] justice proposals, read our report on the coalition’s “North Korean approach to justice” here, and watch former Tory shadow home secretary David Davis lift the lid on Britain’s “secret […]

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