Ken Clarke ‘thoroughly misleading’ over secret courts, says former prosecutions chief

March 1, 2013

Former Director of Public Prosecutions, Ken Macdonald has criticised Ken Clarke’s claims on the Justice and Security Bill as ‘thoroughly misleading.’

Responding to claims made by Mr Clarke that the introduction of secret courts is necessary in order to “reduce the risk of British taxpayers money being used to finance terrorism,” the former DPP points out that those financing terrorism can be arrested, prosecuted or have their assets frozen under existing powers.  The minister’s comments are therefore, he says, a “smokescreen” for plans aimed at “sparing…embarrassment.”

The comments come ahead of the Bill reaching Report Stage in the House of Commons this Monday.

Ken Macdonald’s comments in full are as follows:

“Ken Clarke is being thoroughly misleading. If someone is financing terrorism, the police can arrest them and the CPS can prosecute them, because it’s a crime. This happened all the time when I was DPP. Ministers also possess far-reaching asset-freezing powers that allow the courts to freeze the funds of anyone simply on the basis that they’re suspected of being involved in terrorism.

“The sad truth is that Mr Clarke’s comments look like a smokescreen for plans which are aimed not at keeping the British people safe, but at sparing the embarrassment of the security services when they get mixed up in wrongdoing.

“Instead of promoting this thoroughly un-British legislation, which is designed to make our courts secret as though we were living in Europe in the 1930s, Mr Clarke and his colleagues in government should concentrate on holding the security agencies to account when they break the law.”

ENDS

1. For further information, please contact Donald Campbell in Reprieve’s press office: 0207 553 8166 / 07791 755 415

2. Ken Clarke’s comments were made in an email briefing circulated to Conservative MPs this week.

3. Further information on the Justice and Security Bill can be found at www.reprieve.org.uk/investigations/secret_justice