Public Interest Immunity Certificate creates Murky situation
story in today's times (Paywall) reveals:An accountant wrongly convicted of a fraud allegedly connected to the bribery of civil servants is demanding to see the secret evidence which saved him from a lengthy prison sentence.
Tom Wilson, 52, says he cannot rebuild his life and career because of a court secrecy order which means he and his lawyers are forbidden to know why he was eventually acquitted. Campaigners say Mr Wilson’s case highlights the use of Public Interest Immunity (PII) certificates, which allow government ministers, prosecutors, police and even private companies to ensure evidence remains secret from those facing trial.
I also wrote in The Times
Parliament must act now
You would think that a Public Interest Immunity (PII) Certificate would be used to protect national security and keep us safe from terrorism.
It is surprising that the order in Tom Wilson’s case appears to have been used to hide the misbehaviour of civil servants and a contractor. But I have seen many cases where the use of different types of secrecy orders create a cover-up and undermine the rule of law. The Government has even lost track of how many PII certificates are given.
Article 5 of the Bill of Rights (1688) in theory should protect the right of citizens to complain to the authorities about wrongdoing in the same way as the first amendment of the US Constitution. However, this is not happening. Parliament needs to act to establish a formal inquiry looking at individual cases in secret courts and to roll back the levels of judicial secrecy.