Un Rendez-vous

2009/10/27

The concept of fairness was “constantly evolving”, he added

They would say that, wouldn’t they?

Any evidence of MI5 and MI6 involvement in the rendition and torture of Britons now seeking damages must be heard behind closed doors, the government told the high court today.

In a move with profound implications for how the security and intelligence agencies can be held to account, ministers want the evidence to be withheld from the victims of illegal activities and their lawyers.

It is the first time the government has asked the courts to rule that evidence should be kept secret in a civil case involving claims for damages. “I entirely accept [it] is a departure” from the normal course of such litigation, Jonathan Crow QC, for the agencies, the Home Office, the Foreign Office and the attorney general, told Mr Justice Silber.

He said that although such a “closed” procedure had never before been adopted in a civil claim for damages, there was no reason in principle why it should not be used if it was necessary for what he called “the just disposal of the case”.

The concept of fairness was “constantly evolving”, he added. An alternative would be to “strike out” the claim launched by seven former detainees.

The seven are Binyam Mohamed, Bisher al-Rawi, Jamil el-Banna, Richard Belmar, Omar Deghayes, Moazzam Begg, and Martin Mubanga. All are British citizens or residents who were held at Guantánamo Bay.

The government wants the evidence of what MI5, MI6 and other officials knew of the torture or mistreatment, and in particular what the CIA told them, to be shown in secret to special advocates appointed by the attorney general, Lady Scotland.

Move to withhold evidence in torture collusion claim

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