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Secret inquests without jury voted for in House of Commons

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posted on Nov, 9 2009 @ 06:50 PM
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MPs back 'secret inquiries' plan BBC, 9 Nov 09

This afternoon the House of Commons voted narrowly against an amendment that sought to prevent the government acquiring new executive powers allowing it to order closed inquests, without a jury.

This is a part of the Coroners and Justice Bill drafted by Jack Straw's Justice Department which was defeated twice in the House of Lords.

Using the war-against-terror pretext, the government appears to be determinedly disassembling legal processes which have served the interests of transparent, open justice for centuries.


[this Introduces] "certified investigations" into the inquest system. Under this scheme the secretary of state can certify that an inquest (including one where a person has died in state custody or at the hands of the state) is to be held without a jury. A high court judge must then proceed to hold an inquest without a jury if the inquest will concern a "protected matter" that would otherwise need to be disclosed to a jury.



- inquests would be replaced with inquiries at the behest of the executive

- the Minister or chair of an inquiry could restrict attendance, including that of bereaved relatives, legal representatives and journalists

- the final report setting out facts and conclusions would need to be shown to the Minister before being published and could be heavily redacted.


SECRET INQUESTS

Jack Straw has made it his personal mission to see this through despite strong parliamentary and widespread public opposition. Speaking towards the end of the allotted debate time, he ran out of anything to say, but responding to an external prompt to "keep talking", he stumbled on. This filibuster would have prevented the amendment from reaching a vote. However, following indignant protestations, the vote was permitted on a point of order.

The resurrection of secret inquests Guardian Blog




posted on Nov, 10 2009 @ 07:25 AM
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Incidentally - although this vote was televised on the BBC Democracy Live Parliamentary channel, apart from the BBC on-line report linked above, I've seen no newspaper or mainstream media coverage of this historic precedent.
Not a peep on last night's Newsnight.

Are we not supposed to care - or just not supposed to know that our parliament has now openly declared it values State secrecy above justice?

[edit on 10-11-2009 by EvilAxis]



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