On Wednesday, Jennifer Willott (Shadow Minister, Home Affairs; Cardiff Central, Liberal Democrat) introduced a bill
to require the removal from the DNA Database of DNA samples taken from individuals who are not charged or are acquitted; and for connected purposes.
Another important piece of legislation debated this week, which was not commented on by any in the mainstream media so far as I can tell, was that part of the Counter Terrorism Bill that relates to inquests without juries.
It took place on Tuesday.
Andrew Dismore proposed that part of the legislation should be deleted and incorporated instead into the forthcoming Coroner’s Bill and debated then.
The Home Secretary will be able to issue a certificate stating that the inquest should be dealt with rather differently, without a jury and with a special coroner if it is in the interest of national security or the interest of the relationship between the UK and another country, or otherwise in the public interest. Those are very broad exceptions indeed, going way beyond the issue of terrorism, as I said—and with no jury, but a specially appointed coroner.
A major problem being that the Home Secretary may have an interest in not holding a public inquest.
A further problem is that if the special coroner concluded there was an unlawful killing as a result of seeing closed (sensitive) material, no prosecution might take place because that material would not ordinarily be available to the court.
Yet another problem is that the special coroners are drawn from a pool created by the Government.
I don’t wish to cast aspersions on any coroners, but how can we have any trust in a verdict arrived at in secret by a Government appointed coroner?
As with the 42 day proposal there is no case to support this. Yet again the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and a handful of principled Labour MPs voted against it.
But yet again the Government’s pet MPs voted for secret inquests headed by Government-appointed coroners.
Another attack on our civil liberties.
Why don’t we lock up the Cabinet for 42 days? That would stop them spending our money. I was talking to an education spokeswoman last week about the decline in the rigour of GCSEs. She replied, as if it answered the question, that Ofqual had just been set up to monitor exams. What’s happened to the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, I asked. It used to do that. The QCA’s still there, she said. I felt like handing myself in to Oftrolley.
It’s not just the cash. Every new agency, every new initiative, nudges down the ratio of normal citizens to busybodies. Britain is starting to feel like a nation of traffic wardens. The mentality of officialdom is increasingly malevolent. …