Senior judges criticise Government's use of secret courts
Judges also lifted 'arbitrary and irrational' sanctions imposed against Iranian Bank Mellat
The most senior judges in the land issued a damning indictment of the Government's policy on secret courts, accusing it of requesting unnecessary closed proceedings.
Alongside a judgement in which they also lifted “arbitrary and irrational” sanctions imposed against Iranian Bank Mellat, they issued a warning that secret hearings should only be used when “genuinely necessary in the interests of justice”.
The ruling comes just weeks before the expected expansion of closed material procedures (CMPs) following royal assent of the Justice and Security Act.
Bank Mellat was appealing sanctions imposed by the Treasury in 2009, which shut down its business in the UK because of alleged links with Iran's nuclear weapons programme. It denied any such links.
In March, the Supreme Court reluctantly agreed by a two-thirds majority to hold a CMP after the Treasury said that evidence it had against the bank was too sensitive to be heard publicly.
Reading out the judgement, Lord Neuberger President of the Supreme Court and an outspoken advocate of open justice, said: “Having held a closed hearing, it turned out that there had been no point in the Supreme Court seeing the closed judgment, because there was nothing in it which could have affected the Supreme Court's reasoning in relation to the substantive appeal on the 2009 Order.”
Lord Neuberger said conclusions could be drawn from the experience, adding “appellate courts should be robust about acceding to applications to go into closed session or even to look at closed material”.
Tonight the human rights charity Reprieve said the case seriously undermined the Government's claims it would only seek secret hearings only when absolutely necessary.
Corinna Ferguson, Legal Officer for Liberty, said: “Today's chilling judgment brutally exposes the Government's claims and lays bare its willingness to overstate the importance of secrecy to serve its own ends.”
Today the Supreme Court quashed the sanctions order, saying the bank was singled out in an arbitrary, irrational and disproportionate manner. It was given no opportunity to defend itself in procedures that were “demonstrably unfair”, the judges said.
Sarosh Zaiwalla, who represented the bank, said: “The judgement will put enormous confidence in the independence of the British Judiciary and sets an example that even controversial disputes can be resolved by applying the principle of rule of law through the British courts.
”Nevertheless, the reading of the closed judgement clearly contravenes the British principle of open justice, the bank's success demonstrates just how unjustified closed sessions are.“
- 1 Raif Badawi, the Saudi Arabian blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes, may now face death penalty
- 2 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
- 3 Robert Mugabe eats a zoo for 'obscene' 91st birthday party
- 5 The jihadi girls who went to Syria weren't just radicalised by Isis — they were groomed
Stephen Hawking's wife Jane Wilde on their marriage breakdown: 'The family were left behind'
Raif Badawi, the Saudi Arabian blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes, may now face death penalty
Someone has actually got a tattoo of that dress
PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
White and gold or blue and black – what colour is the dress? An eyewitness gives a definitive answer
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Russia's roadmap for annexing eastern Ukraine 'leaked from Vladimir Putin's office'
Ukraine crisis: Top Chinese diplomat backs Putin and says West should 'abandon zero-sum mentality'
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This well established construction equipment d...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitm...
£7 - £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This high quality thread manufacturer ba...
£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...