UK Liberty

Secret inquests plans postponed

Posted in accountability, inquest without jury, politicians on liberty by ukliberty on October 14, 2008

Oddly, the BBC headlines the news with, “Secret inquests plans ‘dropped’” – yet,

The Home Office said the plans had not been completely dropped and would be in a “forthcoming” coroners’ bill.

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said they would be “working urgently to consider what changes, if any, are required to the clauses before they are brought forward again in coroners’ legislation”.

Ministers had argued that the inquest powers would be used selectively

– yes, that was the worrying thing, that they got to decide which ones would be secret –

and that the majority of inquests would still have taken place in public.

A bit like a detention without charge argument, “it will only be used against a few”.  Not a particularly good justification, is it?  We should be judging such things on their merits not their numbers.

The plans would also have allowed the home secretary to replace coroners with their own appointees

Surely the problem there is obvious, but Jacqui will need help with this, so I’ll spell it out: there’s an obvious conflict of interest if the Government gets to decide whether or not Government-related deaths are investigated by a Government-appointed coroner and heard in secret.

as well as preventing a jury from being called for “reasons of national security”.

And of course the Government gets to decide whether or not it is a matter of national security!

Nothing can go wrong there, can it?!

The article mentions the case of Azelle Rodney, who was killed by police in a controversial shooting, and whose inquest has been delayed because a significant amount of evidence cannot be shown to the coroner or the jury.

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