I doubt many people will have heard of the guy, though they may well know his most famous aphorism, “Not only must Justice be done; it must also be seen to be done.” This is something that Ken (secret trials) Clarke seems willing to ignore, or indeed in what appears to be the case attack anyone who questions his reasons for wanting “secret justice”
Kenneth Clarke launched an extraordinary attack on the Royal British Legion yesterday over its opposition to secret justice.
He accused the respected charity of getting ‘carried away’ over ‘conspiracy theories’ about the Government’s controversial plans to extend private court hearings.
The Justice Secretary immediately came under criticism, with his attitude described as ‘insensitive’.
The Daily Mail has led the way in revealing growing unease at Mr Clarke’s proposals in a Green Paper for an extension of so-called ‘closed material procedures’, in which cases are held in secret.
Chris Simpkins, head of the Royal British Legion, has said the proposals would compound the grief of servicemen’s bereaved families.
He added that he was appalled at the prospect of investigations into military deaths being conducted behind closed doors if they included intelligence information, and called on Mr Clarke to amend draft legislation to exclude inquests from the controversial system of ‘secret justice’.
I think we can all agree that there are times when evidence presented by the intelligence services will need to be presented “in camera” in order not to reveal sources, though most of us agree that what Clarke is doing is akin to using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. People with very good reason are worried by the idea of secret justice, after all if you do not know what the evidence being presented is, you cannot decide if actual justice has been done, all you see is a verdict.
British justice is pretty opaque at the best of times anyway, even when a trial is open to the public, mostly what you’ll get is a report by the MSM on the proceedings, not necessarily why what happened, happened. The same is true for inquests and the closing off of an inquest to the members of the family in a military case will not help the grieving process, something the British Legion is well aware of.
I’m also aware that often enough when a government takes an inch and justifies it with prevention of terrorism then they are fully capable of misusing the legislation to take a mile and prevent any details deemed “not in the public’s interest” to be aired in public, doubly so in the case of the EU and it’s supporters of whom Ken Clarke is a leading light. Yet who decides what is and isn’t in the public’s interest to know? Usually it appears to be those who want us to know nothing anyway, the ones who decided to play down Islamic extremism and immigration, who already hold secret trials in the family courts and remove kids from parents. Basically it’s anyone in the government or often enough the powers that be who thinks they have something to hide, which from my admittedly jaundiced point of view means most of them. In the end, you know it wont just be the government, it will be any public service, local or national, just look at what they did with the RIPA legislation a classic case of mission slip if ever there was one and now it’s in place it’s damned difficult to get rid of because the local authorities like the idea of having such powers to check on what’s in your bin or if you actually live in a school catchment area.
You can bet good money that if Clarke gets his way, it will then be used in ways we never envisioned (well some of us anyway) and the worst of it is, we may never know as reporting on the justice of a secret trial will be an offence in and of itself, no doubt held in a secret court.