Straw drops plans for secret inquests without juries

Woohoo! Err, for now.

Be vigilant. Jack Straw wants you to believe that he’s dropped plans for secret inquests without juries. What these plans resurface as innocuous-looking clauses scattered over a number of bills – which will doubtless be rushed through parliament.

The Telegraph reports:

In a Commons written statement, Mr Straw said that despite earlier Government concessions, it was clear the move still did not command the necessary cross party support.

Where it is not possible to proceed with an inquest under existing arrangements, the Government will consider establishing an inquiry under the Inquiries Act 2005 instead.

Plans to exclude relatives and reporters from parts of some inquests were dropped from counter-terrorism legislation after fierce opposition last year.

But non-jury inquests were revived in the Coroners and Justice Bill this year to cover cases involving sensitive information.

We need to keep an eye on any Coroners and Justice Bill amendments. Last time Straw tried to sneak in clauses to the bill which had nothing to do with its alleged intent. No2ID galvanised voters to contact their MPs to draw attention to the clauses, causing them to be stripped from the bill.

No2ID warned:

NO2ID has been warning since 2006/7 about the stated intentions of government “to overcome current barriers to information sharing within the public sector” [1]. Now the Ministry of Justice has launched an extraordinary coup. It is about to convert the Data Protection Act into its exact opposite, a means for any government department to obtain and use any information however it likes.

Hidden in the new Coroners and Justice Bill [2] is one clause (cl.152) amending the Data Protection Act. It would allow ministers to make ‘Information Sharing Orders’, that can alter any Act of Parliament and cancel all rules of confidentiality in order to use information obtained for one purpose to be used for another.

This single clause is as grave a threat to privacy as the entire ID Scheme. Combine it with the index to your life formed by the planned National Identity Register and everything recorded about you anywhere could be accessible to any official body.

The Database State is now a direct threat not a theory.

Quite apart from the powers in the Identity Cards Act, if Information Sharing Orders come to pass, they could (for example) immediately be used to suck up material such as tax records or electoral registers to build an early version of the National Identity Register. But the powers apply to any information, not just official information. They would permit data trafficking between government agencies and private companies – your medical records are firmly in their sights – and even with foreign governments.


1) Joining the dots on ‘data sharing’
2) Coroners & Justice Bill

Remain vigilant. Government will take whatever powers you agree to relinquish. Don’t relinquish your power – your rights – to any government of any persuasion, lest you ultimately relinquish your freedom.


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