A little-noticed clause in the Counter Terrorism Bill would also enable the home secretary to change the coroner if deemed to be in the national interest.
Ministers insist the vast majority of inquests will still stay public.
But the Joint Committee on Human Rights warned the measures could affect cases like that of Jean Charles de Menezes...There is still no date for the inquests into the deaths on 7 July 2005.
I wonder if this new law will be invoked ( if the Government's latest controversial counter-terrorlegislation is passed) and whether there will be a jury at those inquests? Already I hear that the Coroner originally appointed is no longer running the inquests and a High Court Judge is to be appointed instead.
It doesn't look hopeful. It is terrible that the families have had to wait so long for the inquests. Distressing details of the post-mortems were sent out just before Christmas by the previous Coroner.
This doesn't look good.
Andrew Dismore, the Labour chair of the committee, said: "We are seriously alarmed at the prospect that under these provisions, inquests into the deaths occurring in circumstances like that of Jean Charles de Menezes, or British servicemen killed by US forces in Iraq, could be held by a coroner appointed by the secretary of state sitting without a jury.
"Inquests must be, and be seen to be, totally independent and in public to secure accountability, with involvement of the next of kin to protect their legitimate interests.
"When someone dies in distressing, high profile circumstances their family need to see and feel that justice is being done.
"And where state authorities are involved, there is a national interest in accountability as well."
Labels: civil liberties