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Investigating state secrecy: the Justice and Security Act


Wednesday 15 January 2014


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NUJ Headland House


This NUJ training event will look at controversial ‘secret courts’ as introduced by the Justice and Security Act 2013, which allows the government to defend itself from serious legal challenges in ordinary civil cases with 'closed material' - material outside of the public eye and insulated from the press.

The legal challenges affected by the act will often involve the most serious allegations of UK government involvement in or facilitation of kidnap and torture, and could also include challenges by UK forces to faulty equipment in combat situations.

Relevant material is heard in a ‘closed session’ in the absence of the press, public and the non-government parties to the case – including their lawyers.

This is known as a ‘closed material procedure’, and insulates classified material from effective challenge.

The NUJ has previously run a national campaign on the Justice and Security Bill and against the introduction of secret courts.

Now the bill has been passed into law. The use of such measures has major ramifications on access to justice and the media’s capacity to cover cases.

Dr Eric Metcalfe, a leading barrister in this area and the former director of human rights policy at JUSTICE, will provide participants to this session with an overview of secret courts, as introduced by the Justice and Security Act and an insight into the ramifications of the act on justice in the UK and the press specifically. 

Our panel discussion and Q&A session will include:

  • Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary and chair of the event
  • Eric Metcalfe, barrister and former director of human rights policy at JUSTICE
  • Isabella Sankey, policy director at Liberty
  • David Rose, reporter at the Mail on Sunday
  • Shazia Khan, partner, employment and professional discipline at Bindmans LLP
  • Tariq Sadiq, special advocate and barrister at St Philips Chambers, nominated for Liberty's 'human rights lawyer of the year' for 2013.

This event has been organised in collaboration with the Open Justice Project, a network of lawyers, NGOs and academics opposed to the introduction of closed courts through the Justice and Security Act.

The event is a combined campaigns and training event - the NUJ would like to encourage working journalists who already cover these issues to RSVP and attend on the night. To reserve a place, email Sarah Kavanagh.


Free for NUJ members; £10 for non-members to attend (space permitting).

Further details and contact information

Sarah Kavanagh

Tags: , secret courts, secret evidence