But I am very impressed that Brian Barder, the ex-SIAC lay member who resigned on principle does. Mr Barder commented on my post via the trackback at his blog. I’ve posted a comment in response, but I’d like to post his comment and my response here, for two reasons.
Firstly, because I still find it astonishing that a blog post from a relatively ill-informed person like me can attract a response from someone who has held a significant position in the matter under discussion/ranted about.
Secondly, because he makes some entirely valid criticisms that I would like to admit or address in the same place as the original post.
Having received an email from Mr Barder alerting me to his comments that was above and beyond the call of duty, I’d also like to say he is a gentleman.
Brian Barder said in response to ‘Kafka’:
The full trackback is worth reading, but its attack uses such scattershot in all directions that its effect is somewhat blunted. It’s rather out of date in some respects and misrepresents what happens in SIAC in others. But its anonymous author is right to be disturbed by the revelation that mutually contradictory closed evidence has been offered by the home office in two recent SIAC cases and that this has been discovered only by accident. The official reviewer of anti-terrorism legislation has asked for more information about this and it may result in procedural changes designed to minimise the risk of it happening again. Incidentally the ‘nearlylegal’ post is wrong to suggest that anyone with high security clearance and experience in dealing with intelligence and security material must be a spook or ex-spook.
Thank you for your email and this comment. You are entirely right that my post was scattershot. It was indeed a rant.
I also fully realise that detention without trial was effectively ruled out in the House of Lords overturning of SIAC in X v SS for the Home Department  (although I have direct information on the effect of control orders on some of those released from Belmarsh that makes clear that control orders are not much better, if at all). This was why I said ‘was or is’ at the relevant point. I’d agree this wasn’t clear enough.
I suspect that we might differ on whether SIAC was, in principle, a reasonable approach (or rather ‘least objectionable way’) to address the situation. My sense was that the process was always open to error and/or abuse because the ‘secret’ evidence was effectively uncontestable. The House of Lords judgement in Rehman simply made matters worse for me, although I fully understand why it was a tipping point for you.
This fiasco over contradictory evidence confirmed both my fears over error/abuse and the inherent problems of a system where effectively uncontestable evidence is secretly presented. Particularly where all that is to proved is that the Home Secretary had grounds for suspicion that a threat to national security or interests, however indirect, might be involved.
I competely accept that the lay person with security clearance and experience need not be a spook. That was a rhetorical stretch too far there. That it was a ‘defence’ barrister who caught the contradiction does make one question the effectivity of the security expert though, when they are presumably in place to catch issues with the intelligence.
I hope you don’t mind, but I’ve posted your comment and this response on my blog.
I could well continue be out of date or wrong in some respects, I am not engaged in this area, and I am open to correction. But, hey, I’m flattered by the response. T’interweb is a wonderful thing.