Saturday 22 July 2017

Jack Straw helped create the illiberal secret court rules he's now using himself

In 2013 Tories and their Liberal Democrat enablers colluded to launch an an astounding attack on the concept of fair and open justice by creating a system of secret courts to protect the political establishment from scrutiny.

Secret courts (or Closed Material Proceedings as they are officially known) create the bizarre Kafkaesque circumstances that people can have their fates decided in courtrooms that they are not allowed to enter, based on evidence they are not allowed to see.

Not only does Theresa May's secret court legislation prevent citizens from seeing the evidence that is being used to determine their fate, it prevents their lawyers from seeing it too.

In March 2013 it was clear that the Tories and Lib-Dems had enough votes to pass Theresa May's attack on the justice system, but the Green MP Caroline Lucas tried to make two key amendments to the legislation in order to try to at least prevent outright abuse of the system.

One amendment was to prevent the use of secret court proceedings in civil cases, and the other was to ensure that judges have a legal obligation to consider the "public interest in the fair and open administration of justice" before any secret court proceeding could be launched.

Both of these amendments were voted down by the Tories, their Lib-Dem sidekicks and four liberty-hating Labour MPs.

One of the four Labour MPs who voted with Theresa May and the Tory/Lib-Dem coalition to defeat these amendments was the former Labour Home Secretary and Foreign Secretary Jack Straw.

Fast-forward to 2017 and Jack Straw is facing a civil lawsuit alleging his complicity in the abduction and torture of a Libyan dissident and his pregnant wife in 2004.

After the fall of the Gadaffi government in 2011 incriminating documents were found that showed how members of the British security services tipped off the Americans about the whereabouts of the anti-Gadaffi Libyan dissident Abdelhakim Belhadj and his pregnant wife.The couple were then were then kidnapped by US forces, transported out of Malaysia on a torture flight to Tripoli and then handed over to the Libyan government, where they were then tortured and subjected to interrogation with numerous questions supplied to them by MI6.

Not only is there strong evidence that the UK colluded with Gadaffi's secret police torture centres under Jack Straw's watch, he also deliberately and brazenly lied in the House of Commons 2005 when he claimed that Britain had never been involved in any US torture flight operations.

Now Jack Straw and the MI6 agent Mark Allen are being sued for damages by the torture victims for their role in this kidnap-torture plot, and the judge Andrew Popplewell (a privately educated establishment insider) has decided to invoke secret court rules to allow the defendants to present secret evidence that cannot be seen by the victims, their lawyers, members of the press, or the public.

Had Caroline Lucas' amendments to Theresa May's monstrous attack on the justice system been passed (with the help of Jack Straw's parliamentary votes) then Jack Straw wouldn't now be able to obstruct the fair and open administration of justice by using secret court proceedings, presumably to hide evidence of his complicity in the plot from public scrutiny.

After the decision to allow secret court proceedings in the case was announced, Belhadj said that "I went through a secret trial once before, in Gaddafi’s Libya. It took about a half hour, and I never saw any of the evidence against me. Later a guard came to my cell and tossed in a red jumpsuit – that was how I found out that the secret court had sentenced me to die ... Fatima and I have stuck with this case for all these years because we believe the British system, unlike Gaddafi’s, can deliver justice. But what kind of a trial will it be if we put in a mountain of evidence and government officials can simply refuse to answer us?"

It's impossible to deny that Belhadj has a point here, especially in light of the fact that one of the actual defendants in the case actually voted this shockingly illiberal system of judicial secrecy into existence in the first place.

You really couldn't get a clearer example of a self-interested politician making up laws for their own personal benefit than this, but that's how the British establishment operate, with the likes of Theresa May and Jack Straw colluding to scratch each others' backs.

And that's why Jeremy Corbyn is seen as such a huge threat by the Westminster establishment, because he's never shown any inclination to participate in this cross-party collusion to protect establishment elitists from the consequences of their own actions.

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