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The British (Tory) Establishment opts for secrecy & repression, again

The news about the police is unremittingly oppressive.

Firstly, for the first time ever in crowd control they used a taser at the Dale Farm evictions, amid sickening scenes of unnecessary violence.

Secondly, we now discover that senior police officers authorised undercover officers to conceal from the courts their real identities when giving evidence under oath while being prosecuted for offences committed during their secret deployment.

Even more alarmingly, the leaked report by Hogan-Howe, the new Metropolitan Commisssioner, apparently proposes to rule out more robust and independent oversight of undercover police officers, despite the widespread condemnation of the antics of Mark Kennedy and others in long-term fraternising with, and then betraying, green activists. Then when this latter episode came to court, the case was dismissed because the CPS and police had wilfully concealed material evidence. Even that is not the end of the story.

Thirdley, Kenneth Clarke, the justice minister, yesterday announced that in future any intelligence gained by M15 or M16, even if obtained under torture, would never be disclosed in court, even if it was crucial in prosecuting severe abuses of human rights. This is the Establishment retaliation after their embarrassment at being forced by the courts to reveal evidence that proved that M15 was complicit in the torture of Binyam Mohamed. The CIA was also furious that the evidence implicating MI5 had been contained in CIA intelligence which the courts had insisted must be revealed because it was germane to the Mohamed case, though David Miliband and the FCO had done their best to keep it concealed on grounds of national security.

This act of Establishment revenge comes at a high price in justice. In 2010 the UK Supreme Court rejected the Government’s efforts to suppress evidence in civil cases on the grounds that it would undermine fundamental common law rights. The Government then, grudgingly, was obliged to pay compensation, probably about £20m, to the former Guantanamo detainees in order to prevent further intelligence data being disclosed in court. Now the Government is coming forward with plans to suppress such intelligence at root on the grounds that “it would risk serious damage to national security or international relations” — according to Clarke.

We have already seen what that means when Blair aborted the SFO investigation into BAE bribery in the Al Yamamah contract on the same grounds, which turned out to mean not embarrassing the Saudi royal family over massive bribery revelations. In the Binyam Mohamed case it means the Government is closing off the very route by which UK complicity in torture came to light. In future MI5 or MI6 can torture without any fear whatever of discovery.

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