Saturday, 19 March 2011

The secret prisoners

In a post that should chill the marrow of every reader, political blogger Anna Raccoon has reported on Thursday's parliamentary debate in Westminster Hall.

The debate, secured by Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming, was on Articles 9 and 13 of the Bill of Rights; you can read a full transcript here.

To spend time discussing two clauses of a Bill passed in 1689 under William and Mary may seem an abstruse use of a Thursday afternoon. But Thursday's debate was a step on a lonely but important path that John has, to his credit, been beating for a long time: the dreadful stories of people who have lost their rights, property or even their liberty in secret courts, in some cases prevented by court order from even speaking to their Member of Parliament lest their children be taken away from them - not in Libya or some other far-flung foreign dictatorship, but today, here and now in the United Kingdom.

John Hemming has used parliamentary privilege to tell some of these stories which can now be publicly reported. The full transcript is a long read, but the real life misery described in the cases John describes should give everyone pause for thought, and John should be congratulated for the sterling work he is doing as an MP in shining light into some of the darkest corners of our judicial system.

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