Petition against Secret Courts

Following the debate at the Liberal Democrats September conference in Brighton, we want to make sure that our MPs, Peers and Ministers deliver on the motion that was passed there.

Can you help?  If so, please join the 738 people who have backed the campaign so far, sign the petition below and then pass the word on to as many friends and colleagues as possible via email or social media.

Petition against Secret Courts

In line with the clear and overwhelming decision of conference, we the undersigned members of the Liberal Democrats reaffirm our opposition to secret courts and our commitment to the rule of law, open justice, the holding of government to account, the right to a fair trial and the protection of civil liberties. We therefore call upon our ministers and parliamentarians to:

  • withdraw or vote down Part II of the Justice and Security Bill and
  • put the current “Public Interest Immunity Certificate” scheme on a statutory footing.


Comments received:

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I am and have been a victim of a Secret Court to which my Civil Action was referred simply because two corrupt members of the Judiciary were named as Defendants. Writ CH1988-S-12 Royal Courts of Justice. They still have my money after 3 Judgements.
So, if the court knows it is not being watched, and acted unfairly... who would ever know? No one. Imagine it was your child. If theres a fair case against someone, its only fair that its a public one. A bill like this is much more dangerous for society than the details of any particular trial. This cannot be permitted.
My 6 year old daughter and I are going through HEll. Failer after Failer and my little girl is the one paying the price .
I call upon our ministers and parliamentarians to: - withdraw or vote down Part II of the Justice and Security Bill and; - put the current “Public Interest Immunity Certificate” scheme on a statutory footing.
I have probably been complacent, but I never thought my party's MPs would agree such an illiberal measure.
I have probably been complacent - I never believed this would happen from the Lib Dems. 🙁 this is simply illiberal and against natural justice.
Currently engaged in research into the performance of the security services in our former colonies. The LibDems cannot possibly agree to putting our hard-won civil liberties into the hands of these people.
If this act is allowed to pass, last one out put the lights out.
This "Secret Courts" betrayal of values is straining the credibility of my continued membership to its limits. How can, how dare, our elected representatives stray so far from core values?
Not in my name.
This is so illiberal. It has to be stopped.
For some reason my name is not on the petition list so here is my petition again.
The party should stand up for party policy, the party should stand up for democracy, the party should stand up for liberalism, the party should reject secret courts
I am simply appalled that a party that is supposed to champion liberty should travel so far down the path of oppression and secrecy. This is no longer the party I joined in 1974. Having been a Parliamentary candidate in 1979 (North Fylde) and a former member of Wyre Borough Council for many years, I came to believe that Liberalism was the only course for the country and the world at large. I did not renew my subscription at the end of 2012. There is not a snowball's chance in Hell that I shall rejoin until the party rediscovers its vocation.
Conference has spoken. The grassroots have spoken. Indeed, many Liberal Democrat (and other liberal-minded) MPs have firmly spoken out against secret courts. Nick, don't let us down.
This is the second most terrible thing this government has done.
Neither Kafka nor Orwell would have dared make this up. Our Government just has.
I thought we as a party belived in transparency. Justice needs to be seen to be done not hidden away...
I'm a 2013 conference delegate
Tuition fees, NHS, now secret courts. This party is close to losing its reason for existence and the membership must find a way to rein in the parliamentary leadership. Obviously conference cannot.
The state must not be allowed to conduct trials in secret. It would anti-democratic and dangerous. Justice must be open to public scrutiny, or we move towards tyranny.
Secrets courts are neither liberal nor democratic.
Why is local party required? It shouldn't matter that I am not a party member - I am however united with you against these "secret courts". Perhaps you should set up a petition that is inclusive?
Justice must always be carried out in the light of public scrutiny.
Transparency in legal matters are imperative otherwise we are going back to mediaeval times. Stop the idea secret courts immediately!
I am against secret courts due to future torture cases not heard if secret courts passed. It was partially secret anyway re the spy case and therefore secret courts don't need passing. They printed what they wanted and kept private what was too dangerous to print. Regarding govt wanting power passing into govt hands rather than the judge, if they are the cleaner, greener power power should be in govt hands rather than in judges, it depends on who is more prepared for justice for victims more than perpetrators (criminals). If govt is that better power then power should be in their hands. As they are trying to reform the country and clean it up a bit then power should be in govt hands.
The courage to face up to facts, no matter how uncomfortable, should be the defining feature of the Liberal Democrats, the differentiator against the authoritarian inclined parties that all to readily use any convenient excuse to insist on opaque or outright secret procedures.
please stop the conservatives taking away our civil liberties. This cannot be allowed it is against everything that makes democracy right and true and against what many people have fought and continue to fight to uphold. Governments must be accountable.
Nick should have squashed this part of the Bill in the Quad before it even gotr started. He personally must squash it now in public.
As a party we have our differences - but we are united as one on civil liberties. I joined the Lib Dems because I believed it was the only party to stand up for the liberties I cherish as a UK citizen - please don't let me down now.
This is a key value we should never compromise. We are against this sort of thing.
As a student of law myself, I cannot see how this will be beneficial to keeping evidence of a sensitive nature any more concealed than it is already. Furthermore, I whole heartedly agree that the possibility of this becoming a "thin-end of the wedge" possibility is all too likely to become a reality.
Not liberal. Not democratic. The party needs to fight these proposals at every stage.
Secret courts are the mainstay of totalitarian and right wing governments. The UK must support open justice and ensure it is promoted in the European framework.
We need to fight this.
There is no such thing as 'secret justice' -- the two words are incompatible
If the evidence has been obtain in a correct manner the why the necessity to have it in secret. Let us make wire taps admissable in court other countries do it successfuly. If the Americans are getting the information illegally thats there problem not ours
Secret Courts should not be part of our legal system. Justice must be seen to be done. We believe in an open and free society and in individual rights and liberties. The existence of Secret courts would erode these.
Secret courts have no place in the UK and Lib Dems have no place in supporting them or voting in favour of them.
We are fast approaching a compromise too far, permitting secret courts is not acceptable to liberals.. The torys cannot even controll their own party there is a word we can use, the word is NO
This is a fundamental cornerstone of Liberal Democracy. It is just illiberal to have secret courts. ANY secret courts.
Civil Liberties are THE defining arena of the Liberal Democrats. By not defending Civil Liberties i.e. allowing Part II of the Justice and Security Bill to become law the Party would forfeit any claim to be THE defenders of liberty.
It seemed some consolation for the socially regressive aspects of the Coalition Agreement that at least it promised to be progressive on civil liberties. Is that promise about to be exposed as fraudulent? It should be beyond belief - and it is certainly beyond parody - that the Liberal Democrats should be supporting such illiberal and undemocratic authoritarianism.
There may be an occasional case that requires a secret court, but approval for such courts should require a decision in open high court.
The idea of secret courts goes totally against what we as Lib Dems stand for. I am sorry that I was not able to be at Conference to support the rejection of secret courts.
I totally agree with this as full evidence can be examined thoroughly rather than a part truth which is a waste of time and public and private finances if that applies
The idea of secret courts is very illiberal and against a lot of what the Liberal Democrats stand for. I am sorry that I was not able to be at Conference to support the rejection of secret courts.
What? Secret Courts? Hellooooooo we are living in the 21st century and we don't want any decisions made behind the close doors-Justice and secret can not be in the same page-we all have a right to know!
I may have signed this previously in which case I apologise. P J M
We must retain Open Justice and our MPs should change or vote down the Justice and Security Bill Part II. Secret Courts are an anethema to an open democratic society.
Secret Courts are an anethema to an open democratic society,
I support the principle of open courts having been a magistrate. Social justice must be fair, rational and seen to be done.
Police and secuirity services are corrupt enough as it is. Dont let them get awy with impunity. Justice must stay in the public domain.
Police and security services are corrupt enough as it is. Dont let them think they can get away with impunity with secret courts. Justice must stay public
Secret Courts are not part of the system of justice I wish for my country.
This is the most important debate I have ever experienced in Conference. It went to the heart of fair justice and keeping human rights intact. This became LD policy, so please get Part 2 of the bill withdrawn.
If we don't stand up on THIS issue, there really is no point in continuing to exist as a party.
Freedom and liberty require and demand openness and transparency for them to be delivered in full. Proposal for secret courts strike at the heart of this fundamental principle.
Justice must always be open and must always be seen to be done, not hidden behind closed doors.
Many thanks for organising this.
Coference were very clear on this and no amount of justification could condone the actions of ministers if they do not support the decision of conference.
Nick Clegg tells me that I shouldn't blindly trust any government, and he's right. I don't want reassurance, I want changes to this assault on a basic tenet of our justice system.
Secret courts are just plain wrong. They are the start of a very slippery slope.
Party members had the wisdom and courage to back the leadership on the deficit, and the wisdom and courage to oppose it on secret courts. Now the leadership must show these qualities. There's not only important principles at stake, but also the need to show that we are indeed the only democratically-run party of government.
secrecy is wrong
The clear decision of party members has been that concessions will not suffice. Part II of the Bill must go one way or another. Isn't there something about a "fair, free and open society" on the back of our membership cards?
no secret courts
Justice must be seen to be done, and justice must be open for scrutiny and fairness.
It is essential that we support the motion of this important debate.o
The enormous extension of state powers that this Bill proposes could far too easily lead to abuse. It is essential that all MPs realise the extent of what is proposed. We must do all we to engage them. Politicians across the whole spectrum need to regain the trust of their electors, and working for fairness and transparency in the law will work towards this end.
I agree with this petition against Secret Courts
After ALL the recent government controversies the British want and deserve a lot more transparency and honesty from our leaders. Hopefully some faith will be restored in our political system.
We all have a right to a fair trial and it is essential in a democracy that there is no place for secret courts.
No secret courts
\"free, fair & open society\" ... \"values of liberty, equality ...\"
I agree with doing away with secret courts , with the rule of law and open justice. I agree with what is said above and much more trasnparency from government.
We must preserve our freedom and the rule of law
Surely it is evident that secrecy is the last thing needed in Government. It leads at best to misconceptions and at worst to mayhem.
I unreservedly support the campaign against secret courts which have no place in a democracy.
I do not think a civilised country should be prepared to charge a person without telling the defendant or his lawyers what the charge is.
The separation of judiciary from government is a cornerstone of Britishness.
The considered view of the party conference has been very clear, and there is no doubt that the defence of secret courts from some of our MPs failed to convince.
These proposals are neither liberal or democratic nor are the part of the coalition agreement. Lib Dem MPs must resist them.
Openess is what we are about.
There is no need for further secrecy. There is already scope for not publicly revealing anything harmful to our security services.
I feel very strongly about this
These proposed courts are a denial of justice for ordinary people in Britain, rather then assisting them in achieving a fair hearing.
I was at Conference in Brighton
This proposed measure is diabolical
If the government can not defend itself without using secret courts it should accept liability.
The party has to stand by its principles or it will alienate even those of us who have persisted in the face of the Coalition.
It means a government will be able to stop freedom of informationif they don't want the subject revealed & a ruthless government could possibly use it to stay in power & become a dictatership
I fully support this campaign.
Govt. are working on being more open and transparent, not more secret. Things have been secret long enough without further secrecy. Secrecy covers up torture, and all other ills.
Fully support this work - very important both in terms of the issue and internal party democracy within the Lib Dems
It is one thing to keep some information private due to national security but not to cover up for the quilty.
We must fight and fight for civil liberties as this is a flagship distinction of what our party is about
While there are doubtless genuine occasions when the nation's security may be jeopardised if certain issues are raised, they are very few and very unusual. Legislation such as this potentially covers up too much at the expense of justice for individuals affected. It is furthermore likely to foster even more than is currently known the notion that working "in National Security" is carte blanche to act with complete disregard for the law which all others are subject to.
Would this be the thin end of the wedge for the loss of further civic liberties?
MPs must stand by Conference Resolution
Too much secrecy surrounding government departments and the security services. Abuses of power cannot be kept under wraps for ever. Much better for the state to deal with them fairly at the time, rather than letting them fester.
No comment ... For once, I have been rendered absolutely speechless by the very notion of Secret Courts. What century are we in again?
Secret justice is no justice. We cannot afford to see further erosion of civil liberties.
Secrecy only serves those with something to hide.
Fully support this petition. MPs must listen to the Party on this.
Justice must always be seen to be done.
I agree entirely agree with your campaign and wish to emphasise that the party's MPs need to listen more to what ordinary members think about different issues. If the party hierarchy thinks it can ignore the views and long experience of many of its long serving activists, and prefers instead to rely on special advisers and London- based researchers, the party is no longer inclusive and becomes an exclusive club which I cannot support.
Do w even need to comment on such an absurd proposal.
To assume that we can simply trust any in security services or the courts simply is simply naive. a group of human beings are still involved and some will make mistakes while a small number may be dishonest. we have to have laws that protect individuals in the cases where things go wrong even if they may be the small minority.
By the 21st century our country at least ought to be clean and above board in its public behaviours. "Security" is no excuse for the abuse of citizens' rights.
This is a move away from the fundamentals of liberal democracy and we should all be opposed to it.
It only confirms that my worries about the politicising of the police, based on my experience in various countries across 4 continents. The government is so worried that they will be brought to account for their misdemeanours they want to gag everyone on everything. That is the basis of corruption and dictatorship.
I am against this bill and am a member of this party because it is democratic. Parliamentarians should recognise their responsibilities to conference.
Fully support this initiative. From where did the idea of "secret coursty" orginate???
For Justice to be truly "just" it must be seen to be done, i.e. Justice HAS to be transparent!
Regret not being at Brighton conference; could not afford it!
In case my first attempt was not sent: Am utterly against the Secret State, and any attempt to conceal facts from citizens, in a way that gives power to Big Brother. No true Liberal could have any truck with CMPs, and all Lib Dems must stand together to resist them.
The party membership has sent a clear message via Conference that the Government's proposed measures are unacceptably illiberal. We must reinforce that. Securocrats will always want to draw more power to the security state, with or without justification, and seek the discretion to use that power without the need to be truly accountable. Liberal Democrats must stand up for retaining the principle of open justice.
We are fighting for the principle of open justice. Decisions can never be seen to be just if the process is secret.
That this sort of thing is even being considered is a sign of madness.
Fine but perhaps those in court should sign the official secrets act
Secret Courts are dangerous to civil liberties
Was at the conference when this was debated and felt the strength of the arguments. The attempted wrecking ammendment was shameful
Justice HAS to be transparent.
[I may have already signed this, but as you've sent me another email I'm filling it in again to make sure. Please discard if a duplicate.]
Our parliamentarians should know better than to support such a bill
local councils should also be subject to the law. How can the ordinary man maintain his rights in law if he is not supported by it and it is not enforced?
Justice is no justice unless it is seen to be done.
We are not, nor ever should be, a totaliarian state. No-one should be denied justice.
These courts are a disgrace and not fit to be held in such a 'secretive' way. Transparancy is paramount. Plus human rights are surely in question here?
It is simply unacceptable for someone never to know the evidence against them and never to have the opportunity to refute it before a judge. If a government decides the evidence which might show its actions to be justified is too sensitive for open court, then it is the government which has decided to prefer security to justice, and it will simply have to accept the need to pay from the defence estimates whatever compensation the court determines.
Just read extracts from Cruel Brittania by Ian Cobain, in last Sat's Guardian magazine. Shameful.
There is obviously a need for all courts to sit publicly and to be reported.
Anyone who is either suspected of or charged with any offence, whether or not that offence is said to impinge national security, is entitled under common law to know all of the facts (evidence) pertaining to the alligation against them. Anything less is not justice.
National Security is protected ultimately by making Courts open in almost every circumstance. How can the NHS withhold information from your Executives after you are dead? If you had dementia & were frightenned of everyone.
readthe preambleonthemem card.
Is any comment necessary?. Our message to the PLDP should just get on and do what's right. That is, what was passed at Conference. This is not a coalition compromise issue. More so I would say than throwing the toys out the pram over Lords reform (an action which I totally support by the way - the Tories have to learn there are consequences.)
The closed special immigration appeals tribunals should also be scrapped or seriously reformed.
Secret justice is no justice: this has the potential to establish Soviet-style courts. This must be stopped
Thank you so much for organising this petition. It is based 100% on Liberal Democratic principles, and on everything that we believe in and stand for. Thank you.
Justice must just not be done but should be seen to be done in open courts.
Government for the people BY the people, not a secret cabal
Evidence obtained by torture cannot be used; nor should secret evidence.
I appreciate that our Parliamentarians were trying to square a difficult circle with their amendment, but the fact remains that CMP is simply the wrong way to go. Justice has to be seen to be done, and that means open justice.
I do not understand how anybody who claims to be a Liberal democrat can support the concept of secret courts. They are the staple of dictatorships
No Government above the Law
Excuses about security have always been employed to attack freedom
It shocks me that any one you claims to be liberal could support the idea of secret courts They are a base of all dictatorships
A very slippery slope to go down . NO NO NO Democracy in all things. Many of West Worc swould feel this is the final straw, I include myself in this and would become an Independant councillor. Chair of West Worcs. We have continued to loose members since the election who have seen our principles erroded.
Just back from an academic conference at which I met colleagues who experienced life at the hands of the East German and Portuguese secret police or lost relatives in Nazi camps. Justice must be seen to be done, always.
It should have been obvious to our leadership that this is not acceptable to the party.
We are probably in the same categary as East Germany for tle level of surveillance and spying by MI5 and Special Branch. These organizations need to be made accountable and unfortunately the courts of law are now losing whatever little powers they enjoyed to do so.
As a lwayer who keeps close to security issues, here and in the US, I belie ve this US inspired legislation must not be permitted to be passed.
This proposal has nothing to do either with liberalism or democracy - we should therefore have nothing to do with it.
secret means hiding things away from any public scrutiny
Extremely important that this should be stopped, George R.
It is an outrageous idea - disgraceful!
Supported at conference
we need to act against any hearings that are held in secret
I feel this Act runs counter to the Liberal Democrat constitution as as a result cannot be supported by Lib Dem MPs.
We have a proud tradition of defending our civil liberties and fighting against an overbearing state. If the Liberal Democrats cannot stand up for open justice then the cause is truly lost. Justice has to be done and seen to be done.
The Liberal Democrats stand for Freedom, Equality and Community, it is in the constitution of the party. It is in line with these three points that Secret Courts are banned, and something more open is put in its place. Transparency is the way forward, it promotes freedom and equality through the use of trust and honesty in the community.
This bill has no place in the UK if we are to rebuild our international (and even national - amongst our own citizens - who have grown to distrust government ever more in recent years) reputation, we must be seen to be fair and to operate in the best interests of civil liberty. There can be no justification for secret justice.
I cannot believe that Liberal Democrats would be in favour of secret courts. The reason our liberty has been protected in the past is that any abuses would have to be carried out under the public spotlight.
I hope this doesn't make me a candidate for a secret court.
Justice is best served when Truth comes out. Truth should come out in the open. Justice should be seen to be done. Too many people have been complaining about Secret Courts !
Having listened to the ludicrous arguments in favour of secret courts at Party Conference I am fully in support of this campaign.
Justice must not only be done; It must be SEEN to be done.
Justice should be seen to be done. We should all have access to the evidence.
this smacks of "big brother" and we need to get rid of the bill
This shouldn't even be an issue.They are a a charter for cowards and bullies.
Very disappointed that there even needs to be this petition to be honest.
As a Rep who voted for the motion at conference, and against the amendment supported by our Parliamentarians, it is the position of conference I want to see them take forward. As a default position I am reluctant to seek to tie their hands whilst in coalition but some issues transcend such considerations. If the Liberal Democrats can't make a firm stand for Civil Liverties and the Rule of Law, what can we do?
ALL our MPs must fight to deliver the motion passed at Autumn Commence in full. We live in a democratic country where openness and transparency is the key to a truly liberal society. We rightly criticise states whose justice system does not come up to the level of our own. But the idea of secret court and in terms secret justice is no justice at all.
Secret justice is no justice
We Lib Dems need to show our views on the issue of Secret Courts
Fully in agreement with aims of petition.
No to secret courts
There simply no circumstance under which we should support these proposals.
I voted to oppose Secret Courts at Autumn Conference, and am reaffirming here.
This is the continuation of the dismantling of our system of justice that began with Tony Blair. Do not let yet another ambitious Home Secretary put our personal freedoms at risk for the sake of a quick fix.
The right to a trial in open court is fundamental to our liberty.
Having political influence within the judicial system compromises the rule of law, individual's civil liberties and the right to a fair and open trial. It's right that a statutory scheme is explored with discretion fully in the hands of the judiciary and no one else!
Best wishes on stopping more secret courts. They are a cancer on the body politic and the antithesis of the Rule of Law.
No to secret courts. Secret courts are not open, fair or free. They contradict everything the Liberal Democrats stand for. Part II of the Justice and Security Bill must be withdrawn or defeated by Liberal Democrats in parliament.