Secret Evidence

Secret evidence is unreliable, unfair, undemocratic, unnecessary and damaging to both national security and the integrity of Britain’s courts.

The idea of a fair hearing is as old as western civilization itself. This core principle of British justice has been undermined as the use of secret evidence in UK courts has grown dramatically in the past ten years. Secret evidence can now be used in a wide range of cases including deportations hearings, control orders proceedings, parole board cases, asset-freezing applications, pre-charge detention hearings in terrorism cases, employment tribunals and even planning tribunals.

This report charts the insidious growth of secret evidence in our courts and makes recommendations for reform:

  • Part 1 – sets out the core principles of the right to a fair hearing
  • Part 2 – looks at the use of secret evidence in civil proceedings
  • Part 3 – covers its use in criminal proceedings
  • Part 4 – examines the use of special advocates – lawyers appointed to act on behalf of a defendant in closed proceedings
  • Part 5 – presents the key arguments against the use of secret evidence and makes a series of proposals for reform


Eric Metcalfe


10 June 2009

Download a copy of Secret Evidence