Coalition attacking ‘fundamental principles of British justice’

By staff

Coalition proposals for the civil justice system threaten the foundations of the British legal system, the former director of public prosecutions warned today.

Speaking after seeing the green paper on justice and security, Ken Macdonald said the plans would allow the government to use evidence against individuals which they were not be able to see or challenge.

"These unprecedented proposals are an audacious attack on the fundamental principle of British justice: that you should be able to know, and to challenge, the claims which are made against you," he said.

"They threaten to put the government above the law, while leaving ordinary citizens, and the press, shut out of their own justice system.

"After a decade in which we have seen our politicians and officials caught up in the woeful abuses of the 'war on terror', the last thing the government should be seeking is to sweep all of this under the carpet. However, that is exactly what their disastrous secret justice proposals are likely to do."

The plans are particularly embarrassing given the coalition's insistence it would make a fresh start after widespread criticism of Labour's draconian response to the threat of terrorism.

The proposals would introduce closed material procedures (CMPs) across the civil justice system allowing the use of unseen evidence against individuals.

They would also abolish the use of the legal method by which evidence of British officials’ involvement in torture and rendition was first brought to light, campaigners from human rights group[ Reprieve said.