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Fight to stop secret inquest plan goes on

The fight to block government plans to allow inquests to be held in secret is continuing despite a Commons setback.

Despite a sizeable Labour backbench rebellion, MPs voted to send the measure back to the House of Lords where it was defeated last month.

Thirty-one Labour MPs voted for a rebel amendment to remove the proposed right of the Justice Secretary to demand controversial deaths are investigated behind closed doors, reducing the government’s majority to just eight.

But the National Union of Journalists has vowed to keep up opposition to the measure, which will now have to be debated a second time by peers.

Labour MP John McDonnell, secretary of the NUJ’s parliamentary group, said: “Inquests are key to democracy – they expose the truth surrounding the death of a loved one for many bereaved families and are instrumental in preventing further deaths in similar circumstances.

“Our laws should not allow the state to hide information at the expense of scrutiny and accountability – shielding embarrassing information from the public gaze.”

NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear said: “I applaud all the MPs who voted in favour of open justice. All inquests should continue to be open to the press and public.

“The NUJ will continue to work with MPs and other unions to keep inquests in the public domain.”


Richard Simcox (11/11/2009 10:14:18)
I have written to my MP Joan Ruddock to ask her to oppose this. Anyone who’s interested can see my brief letter on my website
(Disclosure: I am a candidate in the NUJ’s election for editor of the Journalist)