If you doubt the Liberal Democrat influence in this Coalition Government, look no further than today’s news about how the Government has moderated its plans on secret courts in three important ways at the insistence of Nick Clegg.
- inquests have been removed from the plans
- judges rather than ministers to make call about whether secret evidence can be used
- the definition of when they can apply is narrowed from public interest to national security
“Nick Clegg made clear that he would not let security concerns erode the principle of open justice. Continue reading the main storyt Quote“He wants to encourage continued debate during the passage of this bill to ensure that the difficult balance between security and liberty is got right.”
So, despite the concessions he has managed to get, Nick Clegg will still be looking for further changes during the passage of the Bill.
One thing I’m not so clear about – I’ve heard a few civil liberties this morning talking about how the old system of Public Interest Immunity certificates could continue to be used instead. Now that the test is national security rather than public interest in the proposed Bill, would that not mean that an amended Bill would be preferable?
There need to be more safeguards – particularly with regards to the Special Advocates who, according to Liberty, are less than happy with the way the system operates in the few cases where it applies now. However, we need to remember this hard won Liberal Democrat stamp of authority when we write up our “Horrors of a Tory Britain – what might have been” book ahead of the next election.