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Last Updated: Sunday, 3 April, 2005, 04:23 GMT 05:23 UK
Call for 'fairer' terror trials
Scales of justice
Three special advocates have resigned over the restrictions
The government has been strongly criticised over the way terror suspects are represented in court.

They are currently represented by special advocates, who are government-appointed lawyers cleared to review intelligence.

Once the lawyers have seen that material, they cannot see their clients in case they give away information.

A report by MPs condemns the system as "critically flawed" and has called on the government to remove restrictions.

Lawyer protest

Home office officials insist such constraints are justified on the grounds of national security.

The all-party Constitutional Affairs Select Committee has asked for the introduction of intelligence staff who would work alongside special advocates to assess security material.

"It should be possible to construct appropriate safeguards to ensure national security in such circumstances and this is essential to bring some fairness into the special advocate system," said committee chairman Alan Beith.

"At present, special advocates are allowed almost no contact with those they are representing once they have seen the closed material.

"To deprive someone of their liberty without telling them the charge or the evidence is completely foreign to our system of justice," he added.

The MPs say they are worried the same system would be used in the trying of suspects who are under the new "control orders".

Three special advocates have resigned in protest at the restrictions they have to work under.


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