Equality and Human Rights Commission warns UK government over proposals to extend use of secret hearings to civil cases

The government’s plans for a new generation of secret courts faced a fresh setback on Wednesday when its own human rights watchdog warned the proposals could be incompatible with the law.

After taking advice from leading counsel, the Equality and Human Rights Commission told MPs and peers it believes that proposals within the controversial justice and security bill are incompatible with the Human Rights Act.

“The government’s proposals to extend the use of secret hearings to civil cases are a departure from this country’s traditions of open justice and fairness,” said John Wadham, the commission’s general counsel.

“The process is incompatible with the Human Rights Act and the principle of a common law right to a fair trial, and there is no real evidence to show how the proposals would improve the justice system.”

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