Friday, March 27, 2015

Secret "justice" can't be trusted

Last year we learned that Britain was surrendering in the "war on terror", giving up open justice and the rule of law to terrorists by holding a secret trial. Yesterday, that secret trial resulted in an acquittal on its most serious charge of "preparation of acts of terrorism" (the defendant had already been convicted of a lesser charge of possession of a bomb-making manual). So did the jury get it right? Was the prosecution justified at all? Unfortunately, we'll never know, because all the evidence is secret:

As a consequence, members of the public have no idea what lay at the heart of the prosecution of Incedal; nor the evidence that resulted in the jury clearing him of plotting terrorist attacks.

The media is not allowed to explain why a man who was found guilty of possessing a bomb-making manual was not convicted of preparing acts of terrorism. Incedal claimed to have a “reasonable excuse” for carrying the document around with him. What was that excuse? By law, and on pain of prosecution, that small group of journalists who know the answer cannot disclose it.

Nor, currently, can the public be told why all these matters are being concealed from them, or by whom.

And those journalists allowed to attend the semi-closed parts of the case - who had their notebooks confiscated (and no doubt read) by police every evening - can not even consult a lawyer to organise a legal challenge of the secrecy, unless they do so in a closed room with all phones turned off or unplugged, on pain of being jailed for contempt of court. So, in a significant terrorism case, we'll know only what the government chooses to tell us - which will of course be nothing but self-serving propaganda.

As for the verdict, because we can't see it or assess the evidence it simply can't be trusted. Fortunately its resulted in an acquittal, sparing the UK from the nightmare of convicting someone on secret evidence. But the way in which the trial was conducted has permanently tainted its findings, and the entire British justice system. Despotisms hold secret trials. Democracies don't. Which camp the UK falls into now is left as an exercise for the reader.

Meanwhile, its worth remembering: National wants to introduce this poison into our justice system. We shouldn't let them.