Campaigners stepped up their opposition today to the government's hugely controversial plans for secret justice.
At an event in Westminster rights group CagePrisoners launched a nationwide campaign aimed at blocking the coalition government's attempts to "turn Britain into a state of secrets."
Former Guantanamo Bay inmate and CagePrisoners director Moazzam Begg said the plans for secret hearings "came only after evidence of complicity in torture of British men in Guantanamo Bay was exposed in court and after incriminating documents were discovered by anti-Gadaffi Libyan rebels."
"The secrets and lies therein must be exposed before they are all hidden under cover of 'national security' and new laws," he said.
Under the proposals, the government could seek closed material proceedings in civil cases it deemed to touch upon matters of "national security."
The Justice and Security Bill would mean that neither victims of alleged abuse nor their lawyers would be able to hear arguments made against them by the security services or police. A judge would be forced to consider claims by ministers that such information would damage security.
Civil liberties groups have condemned the proposals as an attempt to end eight centuries of open justice and accused the government of trying to place itself above the law.
In particular it was pointed out that under the proposals cases such as that brought by Binyam Mohamed which exposed Britain's complicity in torture would never be made public.
In a sinister development it emerged recently that even the fact that the government had applied for a cases to be heard in closed material proceedings could itself be kept secret.
Former director of public prosecutions and Lib Dem peer Lord Macdonald has also criticised the proposals.
In a recent interview he said: "People whose cases are decided against them on the basis of evidence they have never been allowed to see are still going to feel bitterly aggrieved by this sort of procedure."
The Secret Justice proposals were debated at the Lib Dem conference in Brighton yesterday. A motion tabled by barrister Jo Shaw called for the party's MPs and peers to "press for the withdrawal or defeat" of the Bill.
Lib Dem peer Lord Strasburger told a fringe meeting organised by Liberty on Monday that the legislation was "a toolkit for cover-up" and should be rejected outright.
"Every time closed material proceedings are used it tilts the scales in favour of the government, it opens the door to miscarriages of justice and for cover-up."
But ex-leader Paddy Ashdown made a last-ditch appeal to Liberal Democrats not to inflict a damaging defeat on the party leadership over terror legislation, insisting sticking with plans for secret court hearings did not "compromise our central values."
Lib Dems voted to accept the motion without amendment.
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