Creating a fairer Britain
31 October 2012
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) is hosting an event in parliament today (Wednesday 31 October) to highlight concerns expressed by many public bodies and media commentators, over government proposals to extend the use of closed material procedures in civil court cases.
The EHRC has examined the Justice and Security Bill under its statutory duty to monitor and advise on proposed changes of law to ensure they meet human rights standards.
This assessment finds the use of closed material procedures (sometimes called secret trials) is not compatible with the Human Rights Act.
The Commission’s position is strongly backed up by an opinion from leading counsel, John Howell QC and Barrister Eric Metcalfe, who will brief MPs and Peers at the EHRC event in the House of Lords this afternoon.
John Wadham, General Counsel at the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said:
“The government’s proposals to extend the use of secret hearings to civil cases are a departure from this country’s traditions of open justice and fairness.
“The process is incompatible with the Human Rights Act and the principle of a common law right to a fair trial and there is no real evidence to show how the proposals would improve the justice system.”
For further information please contact the Commission’s media office on 020 3117 0255, out of hours 07767 272 818.
For further information, please see our briefing on the Justice and Security Bill.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission is a statutory body established under the Equality Act 2006. It took over the responsibilities of Commission for Racial Equality, Disability Rights Commission and Equal Opportunities Commission. It is the independent advocate for equality and human rights in Britain. It aims to reduce inequality, eliminate discrimination, strengthen good relations between people, and promote and protect human rights. The Commission enforces equality legislation on age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation. It encourages compliance with the Human Rights Act and is recognised by the UN as an ‘A status’ National Human Rights Institute. It also gives advice and guidance to businesses, the voluntary and public sectors, and to individuals.