29th May 2012

Today the government published the delayed Justice and Security Bill and has withdrawn plans to legislate to use closed material proceedings in inquests. INQUEST has been campaigning hard against the proposals and yet again we have successfully persuaded the government to change course, although we remain concerned about increased secrecy in civil courts.

Helen Shaw, co-director of INQUEST said:

“We’re delighted the government has seen sense and withdrawn inquests from the bill.  Parliamentarians have twice previously thrown out plans to legislate for secret inquests.  Most recently the cross-party Joint Committee on Human Rights unanimously rejected the government’s proposals for closed material proceedings at inquests, and backed INQUEST’s view that they were totally unnecessary.

“Inquests play a unique and vital role in the process of understanding how and why someone died, holding whoever necessary to account and ensuring lessons are learnt.  The prospect that a family might not ever find out exactly how their relative died was unacceptable.

“With the appointment of the new Chief Coroner last week the government can now focus its efforts on working with him to strengthen and improve the coronial system.”


Notes to editor:

  1. INQUEST’s submission to the Joint Committee on Human Rights inquiry into the Justice and Security Green Paper can be accessed here

Details of the JCHR findings are available here

  1. There have been two previous parliamentary attempts to restrict the conduct of inquests and exclude bereaved families at inquests.  Both were withdrawn following concerted campaigning led by INQUEST.