Monday, April 01, 2019

A perversion of justice

That's the only way to describe the police's demand to be allowed to use secret "evidence" to defend themselves from the claim they unlawfully invaded a blogger's privacy by demanding his bank records:

Police are trying to use secret evidence to defend searching an activist's personal banking records without a warrant while hunting for the hacker Rawshark.

Activist and blogger Martyn Bradbury has provided the Herald documents showing the police are seeking a closed hearing of the Human Rights Tribunal to present evidence it does not want made public.

In an application to the tribunal from Crown Law, the lawyer acting for police said: "Police indicate at this stage that it will seek to invoke the "closed" hearing process in relation to information relevant to this claim."

A closed hearing means that "evidence" is given to the judge, without the other party or their representative being present, effectively preventing them from challenging it in any meaningful way. Its a straight-out violation of the right to justice, and overseas has been found to violate fair trial rights and to run a real risk of misleading the court. Which is probably why the police are keen on it.

We first saw this atrocity in the Ahmed Zaoui case. It was bullshit then and it is bullshit now. But despite the obvious problems with it, the establishment has legislated for its use in our courts in certain national security cases (for example, in challenges to passport seizures, immigration decisions, terrorism designations, or proceedings under TICSA). The Human Rights Review Tribunal has no such statutory authority, and it is difficult to see any justification why they should be permitted to violate fundamental norms of justice in this way. If the police don't want Bradbury to see the evidence, they have a simple solution: don't use it, yield the case, and pay damages. It speaks volumes about them and their ethics that they would instead attempt to pervert the course of justice in this way.