Lords and MPs: Scrap secret inquests now

By Ian Dunt

Plans for secret coroners’ inquests must be dropped immediately, according to the joint committee on human rights.

The committee of MPs and Lords found the government had failed to make the case for the inquests, and should immediately give up on the proposal.

“The issue of secret inquests has been controversial, and we have reported on it before,” said Andrew Dismore, chair of the committee.

“Whilst the government has attempted to modify the proposals, no proper justification has ever been put forward and the secret inquest plan should just be scrapped.”

The government originally put plans for certain sensitive inquests to take place without juries and excluding the bereaved in the counterterrorism bill, but dropped it after facing massive opposition to other parts of the legislation.

It eventually found its way into the coroners and justice bill, which comes before MPs soon.

Critics say the powers would have been used during the inquest into the death of Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes who was killed by police in the aftermath of the London bombings.

“Any investigation into the way a loved one has died – especially in circumstances involving the state – must remain transparent and accountable, and the bereaved must retain the right to be involved in the proceedings,” Mr Dismore said.

The committee also called for the information commissioners powers to be extended to he could assess private sector compliance with the Data Protection Act.

The Act currently only covers government departments, local authorities and certain police and NHS bodies.

MPs vote on the coroners bill early next week.