Sir David Davis blasts ‘sly’ Commons bid to bring in controversial secret courts


 As reported in the Mail on Sunday;

“Coalition Ministers were last night accused of mounting a ‘sly’ attempt to bounce the Commons into approving controversial plans for secret court hearings.

Former Shadow Home Secretary David Davis attacked the Government for trying to ‘rush through’ what he said amounted to a huge threat to British liberties.

He spoke out after it emerged that MPs will begin debating the much-criticised Justice and Security Bill on Tuesday – just 48 hours before the Commons breaks for Christmas and when the number of MPs attending may be significantly reduced.

The Bill aims to allow so-called ‘closed material procedures’ – secret court hearings – where sensitive intelligence material can be disclosed and reviewed in private by judges.

Ministers claim the changes are required to enable serious criminal and terrorist cases potentially involving claims for compensation to be tried without the danger of compromising intelligence sources.

Last week, a Libyan dissident and his family won £2.2 million over claims that MI6 had been involved in their illegal rendition even though the Government did not admit liability.

 Experts say this is the sort of case that the Government would prefer to have dealt with in a secret hearing.

But Tory critics claim the proposals are ‘dangerous’ and nothing to do with national security.

Last night, Mr Davis said: ‘I’m afraid they are trying to bounce this through on the sly. It is a parliamentary disgrace to timetable such an important Bill for debate at such short notice.’

He went on: ‘This constitutes a major threat to a foundation stone of our legal freedoms – the  right to trial in an open court.’

Mr Davis said judges were already able to order sensitive evidence to be withheld from litigants where necessary.

The Cabinet Office denied the Bill was being rushed.

A spokeswoman said: ‘It is really important that civil damages claims are heard properly by a judge, which they cannot be at the moment.’”