Leading article: Sham openness will not satisfy justified curiosity

 

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The inquest into the death of Gareth Williams – the MI6 agent whose body was found zipped up in a holdall in his London flat – was always going to draw attention because so much remains unexplained. Thus it was a positive start when the Coroner insisted yesterday that all evidence would be heard in public.

Or it would have been, if that was what was really going to happen. In fact, the Coroner also said that some witnesses would testify anonymously and some information would be withheld because of the "real risk of harm" to national security and the public interest. She said that "gists" of withheld evidence would be revealed. Er, not so positive then.

That openness has become the buzzword of the day, even in sensitive court cases, is a move in the right direction. But that openness has to be real, otherwise it is just secrecy and obfuscation dressed up to please the crowd.

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