– Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty
The oldest parliamentary trick is to start with a policy so outrageous that any crumb of comfort looks half-reasonable.
The protection of inquests is that crumb, but what if grieving families and other victims want to sue the military, intelligence or political establishment for abuses of power?
We've all seen fig leaves like 'judicial triggers' and 'exceptional circumstances' before. They give little comfort to the claimant locked out of court while Government lawyers play to an open goal in private with the judge.
– Ken Clarke, Justice Secretary
We have consulted and listened to many critics of our original plans and have made substantial changes. Protecting the public cannot come at the expense of our historic freedoms. That principle is absolutely right and has guided the Government's response.
The Bill now ensures that no evidence given openly in court at the moment can be given in secret in future, and gives the judge the final decision about whether any evidence at all can be heard in closed session.
Only civil cases involving national security evidence will be affected. The proposals were never intended to apply to criminal cases.
Inquests will not be included in proposals to allow secret evidence to be heard in civil courts, the Justice Secretary said.
The Ministry of Justice is due to publish the Justice and Security Bill today, which includes rules on controversial proceedings to hear some evidence secretly.
The Bill will pave the way for sensitive intelligence to be heard in civil courts where national security is involved. It is understood that, in a climbdown from earlier proposals, the powers will not be extended to inquests.