Clarke listens to Daily Mail on secret justice proposals

Justice secretary Ken Clarke today declared that the Daily Mail had done a “service to the public interest” by campaigning against proposals to hold some inquests and court hearings in secret.

The Government today announced plans to water down the proposals in the Justice and Security Bill, published today, in the wake of a campaign by the Mail and civil liberties campaigners during the consultation period.

Now no inquests will be heard in private and only parts of court hearings involving spies and national security. The decision on whether to exclude press and public and hold hearings in secret will now be taken by a judge rather than a politician.

Writing in the Daily Mail today, Clarke quoted Benjamin Franklin saying: “Those who would give up their liberty to purchase a little safety deserve neither…

“The reaction to the consultation has persuaded me that some of the suggestions we made for solving the undoubted problems were too broad. I have used the last few months to listen to the concerns of the Mail and civil liberties campaigners with whom I usually agree…

“The Daily Mail has done a service to the public interest. I hope that during the passage of the Bill we will win the support of its readers for an improved system that will protect the secrets of our intelligences services from public scrutiny but make sure that they remain accountable to the law, to Parliament and to the public.”

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