It is worth noting that the Justice and Security Act 2013 which received Royal Assent on 25 April 2013 will extend the used of closed material procedures (already allowed in employment tribunals) to other civil proceedings, where a party may be required to disclose “sensitive material” and it is in the interests of the ‘fair and effective administration of justice’.
The Act follows a security Green Paper presented by former Justice Minister Kenneth Clarke in 2011. As well as dealing with the extension of the closed material procedures the Act also provides a statutory footing for oversight of MI5, MI6 and GCHQ. It also contains a right for the government to prevent court orders being made for the disclosure of what it considers to be “sensitive information”.
It is a central tenet of our justice system that parties are able to see and challenge an opponent’s evidence as part of advancing one’s own case and
The Crime and Courts Act 2013, which received Royal Assent on the same day, will permit the filming of court proceedings, save that filming may be prohibited in the interests of justice or where it may cause unfair prejudice to a party.
Although not proceeding in an employment tribunal, a case currently in the Southwark Crown Court is providing a fascinating insight into what is alleged to go in within the confines of MI5. A woman under the codename 2363 is the former girlfriend of a spy who was her superior, given the pseudonym Mark Barton. The witnesses are giving evidence behind tall blue screens. He is alleged to have harassed her at work over a period of four months.
However it is alleged that they were watching Andy Murray playing at Wimbledon on an outdoor screen in Sloane Street and he became angry when Murray played badly. He is said to have abused her, saying that she “was nothing” and she was “lucky to be with him”. The prosecution claim that he used MI5’s email system to send her a series of desperate messages, including references to his “top secret work”. He also visited her mother, having tracked down her address and, to her considerable surprise, told her that he would marry her daughter within two years. He is further alleged to have forced himself on his fellow employee while in a lift at MI5’s offices at Thames House and to have thrown her into a cupboard while trying to persuade her to continue the relationship.
Among the more remarkable details to have emerged are that they renewed their friendship although being told to have no contact with each other. She used a false name for him and they went to see the remake of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy! They continued their relationship. However he is alleged to have followed her home from MI5 headquarters and threatened her, saying that his father was a judge and that he was “going to ruin her life”.