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Archive for November 10th, 2009

Labour forces secret inquests Bill through the Commons

Independent: Secret inquests which will bar bereaved families and the public from attending hearings into controversial deaths were forced through Parliament last night.

The Government narrowly defeated opposition to the new powers by a majority of eight MPs in a highly charged vote in the House of Commons. Under the measures ministers will be able to order that an inquest is replaced with a secret inquiry whenever they deem it necessary.

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‘Big Brother’ database cancelled by ministers

Independent: Plans to store information about every phone call, email and internet visit in the United Kingdom have in effect been abandoned by the Government.

The Home Office confirmed the “Big Brother” scheme had been delayed until after the election amid protests that it would be intrusive and open to abuse. Although ministers publicly insisted yesterday that they remained committed to the scheme, they have decided not to include the contentious measure in next week’s Queen’s Speech, the Government’s final legislative programme before the election.

The effect of this move could be to kill off the plans for years. The Conservatives have not ruled out reviving the idea but remain sceptical about the practicality of Labour’s proposals.

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Right-to-die case: mother’s view paramount, says paediatrician

Independent: A mother’s wishes for her child’s care outweigh a father’s opinion, a right-to-die trial was told yesterday. Hospital doctors favour a mother’s views on the treatment of her child and give them “particular weight”, a leading paediatrician told the High Court.

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Simon Carr: Trust him, he’s the Justice Secretary … Oh, if only we could

Independent: “There’s no reason not to trust me,” Jack Straw told the House of Commons. He wouldn’t dare say that in public.

He’s into the later stages of his Coroner’s Bill, the device by which he sought to introduce secret inquests to this country – proposals that were “parodied as secret inquests”, he said, in the midst of his half-hour of baffling waffle.

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The laws that stain Britain’s good name

Times: Britain is a pariah state, shunned by its allies and exploited by the unsavoury. The state of English libel laws (Scotland’s provisions are a little better) is so embarrassing that a number of US states have enacted legislation to protect their citizens from our courts. London is the global centre of libel tourism. From Middle Eastern potentates to Russian oligarchs, the rich and powerful use our legal system to bully people who try to hold them to account.

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