A row over secret courts rumbles on – with the Law Society refusing to back down on fears over new health and safety laws.
The lawyers’ body raised concerns over a last-minute change which could see someone tried and convicted without seeing all the evidence – or being present during all proceedings.
Attorney-General Chris Finlayson fired back – saying the Law Society was wrong and was commenting on an old version of the bill.
The late additions introduce ‘closed material’ procedures for dealing with top-secret material in court. It also allows the directors of spy agencies to declare parts of the legislation do not apply to their staff – to protect national security.
Finlayson – who is also security services minister – says defendants will always have access to evidence being used to prosecute them and he is not expanding the use of controversial secret courts.
But questions remain about provisions which allow a court to order a defendant or lawyer be excluded from proceedings – and allow the appointment of a special advocate with security clearance to view evidence on their behalf.
Now Law Society president Chris Moore has reviewed the new changes – and he says many of his organisation’s original fears stand.