Legal action charity Reprieve hit out at the coalition today over attempts to reverse House of Lords amendments to its controversial secret trials plans.
Amendments to the Justice and Security Bill tabled today by Home Office Minister James Brokenshire would remove changes imposed by peers granting marginally greater powers to judges in determining whether closed material procedures (CMP) could be used by the government.
Reprieve also said the amendments would mean that only government ministers would be able to use CMPs in relation to information they held, while members of the public bringing cases against them would not.
The charity argued that this was at odds with the coalition's claim that it had accepted changes to the Bill which would allow greater "equality of arms."
Peers insisted that "at the very least" a judge should be able to weigh the public interest in justice against the government's claims of national security in deciding whether a secret court could be used.
But the coalition amendments have removed this provision, meaning that the judge's hands would effectively be tied if a minister said information was an issue of national security.
Reprieve executive director Clare Algar said: "The Bill will place the government above the law and badly damage the independence of our judges. It does not even appear that ministers can be trusted to accept the small steps in the right direction taken by the House of Lords. The only safe course for MPs is to strip out plans for secret courts altogether."