Tag Archives: justice and security bill

Paul Strasburger writes…Reflections on the battle against Secret Courts

On Tuesday night 26 Lib Dem peers voted against a three line government Whip on Secret Courts. For many of them, it was the first time they had defied such a strong Whip. I am proud to have been one of them.

Sadly – for the party and for the country – we lost by 16 votes but would have won comfortably if Labour peers had turned up and voted in their usual numbers. They demonstrated in spades their indifference to civil liberties. The Tory Whips laid on a showing of a James Bond film during the debate to keep their …

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Liberal Democrat Lawyers’ Association speak out on secret courts

house of lordsThe Liberal Democrat Lawyers’ Association held a special meeting on Monday to discuss the Justice and Security Bill. They have sent this message to Lib Dem peers:

It was the unanimous view of the meeting that the measures introduced by the Justice and Security Bill amount to an attack on the Rule of Law in the United Kingdom and that those present were opposed to the measures contained in Part II of the Bill. I was felt that arguably the measures are a greater attack on our traditions and

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Crunch time for secret courts – email the Lords tonight

This time tomorrow, the House of Lords will have voted on the Justice and Security Bill. These men and women have the future of fair and open justice in their hands.

If they pass the Bill as it stands just now, it will not satisfy the Joint Committee on Human Rights. That is serious stuff. It is counter-intuitive for any Liberal Democrat to be going against what that Committee, not to mention Liberty, Amnesty and every other human rights organisation, says. How many red flags do we need?

The amendments in the Lords will, if passed, ensure that secret courts are only …

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Secret Courts Bill… don’t get your hopes up

House of Lords. Photo: Parliamentary copyright images are reproduced with the permission of ParliamentSo, it has come to this. Apparently, the only hope left of stopping the Secret Courts element of the Justice and Security Bill is to persuade the Parliamentary Party in the Lords to either vote down Part II of the Bill, the bit with the Secret Courts elements in it, or to vote down the entire Bill. Easy, really. Or, perhaps, not. You see, this presumes that the Lords gets to vote on Part II or the entire …

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++ Lib Dem conference overwhelmingly votes to oppose ‘secret courts’. Again.

You may be forgiven a sense of déjà vu: the Liberal Democrats have voted overwhelmingly to oppose secret courts legislation. Just as we did last September.

Here’s the text of the motion which was just passed:

Conference believes:

1. That the measures in Part II of the Justice and Security Bill will mean the courts system of the United Kingdom will provide neither justice nor security in cases involving

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Ming Campbell MP writes… Why I support the Justice and Security Bill

Supreme Court - Some rights reserved by cphoffman42Last September in Brighton, the Conference voted to remove part 2 of the Justice and Security Bill. That Bill is now completing its final stages in Parliament. But let me assure you, that because of Liberal Democrat pressure, the Bill is now radically different. Amendments have been made such as unfettered discretion for the judge and increased safeguards in order to meet previously raised objections.

The Bill is no longer the one that was before Conference last September and I believe it is now right …

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Secret Courts..what does the party do now?

Its’s not been the easiest 24 hours to be a Liberal Democrat. It was very hard to watch the majority of our MPs vote to remove the right to a fair trial in civil cases where national security is deemed to be a factor.  Just seven MPs voted in favour of amendments advised by the Joint Committee on Human Rights. The fact that the JCHR had a different view from the Government should surely have raised a huge red flag. An even bigger signal that our MPs were on the wrong course was the fact that Labour were voting in …

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116 Liberal Democrats write to the Daily Mail opposing secret courts

Today’s Daily Mail contains a letter from 116 Liberal Democrats asking MPs to vote down Part 2 of the Justice and Security Bill. The signatories include a Liberal Democrat member of the House of Lords, an MEP, 5 members of the Federal Executive, 2 members of the Federal Policy Committee, 6 past and present members of the Liberal Democrat Voice editorial team and a number of parliamentary candidates. The letter says:

We are writing to urge all MPs to do the right thing by voting against Part II of the Justice and Security Bill when it has its Report stage in

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A response to Julian Huppert’s analysis on the Justice and Security Bill

A response to Julian Huppert’s analysis of the Justice and Security Bill

We learned on Wednesday this week that the Justice and Security Bill is being rushed into Report Stage in the Commons. The government has now published its latest proposed amendments to the Justice and Security Bill. Astonishingly I have been told that Conservatives are saying the Bill has been moved forward to conclude in the Commons on 7th March to avoid a further motion at our Spring Conference.

Julian Huppert and Mike Crockart worked very hard during the Committee stage of the debate, and voted (supported by Labour) to defeat secret …

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Julian Huppert MP writes…An update on the Justice and Security Bill

The Government has today published their amendments to the Justice and Security Bill for Report Stage, following the strenuous efforts Mike Crockart and I put in during the Committee. And they have clearly made significant concessions to us as a result of the things we demanded.

First, there is a provision to make sure that Public Interest Immunity is looked at before a judge is allowed to consider a Closed Material Procedure. This was taken out by the Government during Bill Committee. Mike and I tried to put it back in, and it looks like the Government has accepted our …

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Julian Huppert MP writes: Quick update on secret courts

Mike Crockart and I just called a vote to remove secret courts from the Justice and Security Bill, in line with Conference’s motion.

Despite highlighting in the debate that they supported closed proceedings in principle, Labour saw an opportunity to make mischief and eventually backed us. But due to DUP support for the Tories, we lost 10-9.

I’ll give a fuller update to everyone concerned soon. Suffice to say there will be more crucial votes to come on the Committee, and the Government has to move or the Bill will not pass as is.

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Jo Shaw: Secret Courts update – please support our new motion to the Lib Dems’ Spring Conference

Supreme Court - Some rights reserved by cphoffman42The Justice and Security Bill, which introduces secret courts into almost all civil cases, was rushed into its second reading in the House of Commons on Tuesday this week.

The Minister in charge of secret courts in the Commons, Ken Clarke, made an opening statement in the debate which made it clear that the Coalition Government does not accept the amendments proposed by the Joint Committee on Human Rights, some of which were passed by the Lords. It is still …

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Clarke’s concessions on secret courts will not satisfy Liberal Democrat campaigners

Ken ClarkeIsabel Hardman has written a piece on the Spectator’s Coffee House blog which essentially says that Liberal Democrat MPs and campaigners are on a bit of a collision course over Part II of the Justice and Security Bill. Liberal Democrat conference voted overwhelmingly in favour of this measure being withdrawn because of its provisions on secret courts.

The article suggests that Liberal Democrat MPs are likely to support the measures now that Ken Clarke has accepted an

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LibLink: Nick Thornsby – The Justice and Security Bill is the Liberal Democrats’ biggest challenge yet

Our Nick Thornsby has been writing about the Justice and Security Bill over at the Guardian’s Comment is Free site.

First of all, he gives his view about why this Bill is bad news for anyone who is committed to civil liberties:

It is difficult to comprehend just how fundamental a departure from centuries-old principles this would be. The right to see and hear the evidence of the other side, and subsequently to challenge the veracity or utility of that evidence, forms the

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Lord Alderdice writes… Improving the Justice and Security Bill

Last night the House of Lords debated and voted on the Justice and Security Bill at its Report stage. I know from reading Lib Dem Voice and from listening to the recent debate at Conference what a touchstone issue this Bill is for many members. Which is why I want to explain how the Bill, which we have now passed to the Commons, is a very different beast from that originally under consideration.

Some of you will have seen that the Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) produced a unanimous report last week. We have two eminent Liberal …

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172 Liberal Democrats write to the Times to oppose secret courts

As the Justice and Security Bill is debated in the House of Lords for the second day this week, 172 Liberal Democrats have written to the Times to express opposition to the proposals for secret courts and their letter has been published today (£). Although only five names are given in the paper, the full list of 172 who signed before the letter was sent and more who signed subsequently is published on the Lib Dems against secret courts website.

What’s interesting about the list is that it contains such a broad range of

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The Justice and Security Bill goes back to the Lords with last-minute amendments

One of the government’s most controversial bills of this session – the Justice and Security Bill – goes back before the House of Lords today for Report Stage consideration. The second part of the Bill makes provision for civil cases to be heard in a ‘closed material procedure‘, with one side (and the public) barred from hearing the evidence of the other if a judge deems that it would be damaging to national security if it became public.

Liberal Democrat members, of course, overwhelmingly passed

Posted in News | 19 Comments

Opinion: Secret Courts – one month on

One month ago today Liberal Democrat members voted overwhelmingly against the government’s plans for secret courts contained in Part II of the Justice and Security Bill. The motion was passed unamended despite the efforts of party leaders who attempted to dilute the motion into an apology for unfair trials.

Reporting of the Bill has continued, none of it reassuring. During the debate I said I could not understand why our government would suggest this illiberal measure, unless it was due to pressure from the US government. Disturbingly it seems I was right as it was what David Anderson QC, the government’s …

Posted in Op-eds | 9 Comments

Justice and Security Bill: some recommended reading

As the distinction in much of the news media between straight reporting and comment becomes increasingly less clear, and in-depth analysis is replaced by instant comment, reliable, neutral and well-informed analysis of big policy issues becomes more difficult to lay one’s hands on. That is even more true when it comes to Parliamentary business.

Unbeknown to many outside the Parliamentary Estate (or at least to me until fairly recently!) are the documents produced by the Commons and Lords libraries. All the documents produced …

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The Justice and Security Bill: an important point that’s been missed

The debate at this year’s Liberal Democrat conference on the Justice and Security Bill was one of the highest quality of the whole conference, particularly on the part of those supporting the motion (and opposing the party leadership’s amendment). It was no wonder after hearing those fantastic speeches that the motion was passed so overwhelmingly.

It is true that significant amendments have been made to the Bill by Liberal Democrats since it first arrived in Parliament. It has undoubtedly been improved. One of the main improvements was to remove inquests from the scope of the closed material procedures that are at …

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Conference calls for our parliamentarians to reject Secret Courts

At most conferences there is at least one debate which proves how different we are from the other main parties. Different because we entrust Conference to decide party policy, in open debate, even where that may be at odds with the views of our parliamentarians.

Today’s debate on the ‘Secret Courts’ motion was a good example. The full title was F41: No Government Above the Law – The Justice and Security Bill.

This motion, submitted by two local parties, called on the Coalition to withdraw Part II of the Justice and Security Bill, which would empower Ministers to allow civil hearings …

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Lord Jim Wallace writes… Secret courts: only where absolutely necessary

Securocrats arguing for increased judicial scrutiny of their actions? Human rights groups praising the collapse of cases brought alleging torture against the Government?

Like me I suspect, you will suspect this is some elaborate joke, or indeed a typographical error.

But in fact these are indeed the seemingly bizarre positions into which these perennial adversaries have put themselves.

In the last few days we have seen some spectacular attempts to redefine the content of the Government’s Justice & Security Bill, casting all sorts of hyperbole and confusion on what should be a cool-headed debate.

The authors of these counsels of despair could do worse …

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The Independent View: Why Lib Dems should vote against the Secret Courts Bill on Tuesday

On Tuesday, Liberal Democrat conference will debate a Bill which strikes at the heart of liberal principles. The Justice and Security Bill will effectively put ministers and government officials above the law. If this is to be avoided, it is essential that Liberal Democrats vote for the motion, unamended.

Under the Bill, the state will be able to kick anyone bringing a case against them out of court simply by claiming ‘national security’ is at risk – a claim which has been used to cover up Government involvement in torture and rendition all too often during the ‘War on Terror’.

Politicians will …

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Lord Jim Wallace writes… We want to enhance scrutiny of the security services, not evade it

Let’s be clear: the original proposals in the Justice and Security Green Paper were too broad. The Government has listened and, as Tom Brake wrote last month, has ensured that the Bill before the House of Lords now is much narrower and more focussed on the problem at hand.

However, in the recent media furore about Nick Clegg’s red lines and changes to the Bill, I feel that a proper discussion about what this problem actually is has been lost.

So let me set out clearly the problem that we need to solve. At the moment, judges cannot hear evidence gathered …

Posted in Op-eds | 2 Comments

Tom Brake MP writes… Justice and Security Bill – a good result for the Lib Dems and Civil Liberties

Back in April, the Guardian, the Daily Mail and others reported that Nick Clegg, unhappy with the breadth and scope of the Justice and Security Green Paper, and having read the Joint Committee on Human Rights’ report into it, had written to Ministerial colleagues setting out his red lines for any Bill to be introduced in the second session.

These red lines, as reported at the time, were:

  • That any use of Closed Material Procedures (CMPs) should be restricted to exceptional cases of national security only
  • That they complement, not replace, the current system of Public Interest Immunity (PII)

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 3 Comments



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