Secret courts opposed by army widow and torture victims

The Government is to push ahead with plans for secret courts tomorrow, despite recent opposition ranging from the widow of a soldier who is bringing a negligence claim against the MoD to a family ‘rendered’ to Gaddafi’s Libya by UK intelligence.

Concerns have been raised by victims of state wrongdoing or negligence that claims like theirs could in future be heard in secret, making it less likely that the government would be held accountable.

The plans will have their second reading in the House of Commons tomorrow – following criticism in the past few days from:

    Debi Allbutt, who is bringing a negligence claim against the MoD over the death of her soldier husband in a friendly-fire incident due to inadequate equipment, and told the Sunday Express that “we are now facing an extra hurdle which seems deliberately designed to protect the MoD and the Government,” adding, “I really don’t think people in the country realise how dangerous this new law will be for justice.”
    The al Saadi family, who were forcibly ‘rendered’ to Gaddafi’s Libya by UK intelligence in 2004.  Khadidja al Saadi, who was 12 years old when she was forced on the plane in the joint UK-CIA-Libyan operation, said last week: “I wrote to Ken Clarke when I heard about the secret courts plan, but he would not say that he would not seek to try my case in secret. I still feel this would have been unnecessary, unfair, and unworthy of the UK.”

Commenting, Reprieve’s Executive Director, Clare Algar said: “We have seen from past events that government can get things wrong – yet these proposals are built on the dangerous assumption that the state is somehow incapable of error, and should be beyond judgement.  If Parliament allows this expansion of secret courts, we will lose our basic right to a fair hearing in court against the Government.  Worse, it will fatally undermine the fundamental principle that no one is above the law.”

ENDS

1. For further information, please contact Donald Campbell in Reprieve’s press office: 0207 553 8166 / donald.campbell [AT] reprieve.org.uk

2. For Debi Allbutt’s comments, see ‘Army widow hits out against secret justice,’ Sunday Express, 16/12/12: http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/365004/Army-widow-hits-out-against-secret-justice

3. The al Saadi family’s comments can be found here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/dec/13/libyan-dissident-mi6-aided-rendition