Rick Scannell, 'special advocate' for SIAC, resigns
Mr Scannell said in his resignation letter: "In light of the government's continued maintenance of detention under ACSA powers and the government's apparent determination to extend those powers I consider my continued participation in a system condemned by the House of Lords to be wholly untenable."
They may challenge their detention before the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) but neither they nor their lawyers are allowed to see the secret evidence against them. That evidence can be seen only by the special advocate appointed to represent the detainee's interests, who may not discuss it with the detainee or his lawyers.
Ian Macdonald QC, who has also seen secret intelligence reports on the detainees, is one of 15 special advocates appointed by the government to represent the detainees' interests in secret sessions of the Special Immigration Appeals Commission, Siac. He has resigned his post, describing the law which gives the government the power to detain indefinitely without trial as odious. He says he feels he was being used to justify a system in a way he now finds intolerable.
In 1997, I accepted the offer of appointment as a lay member of the new Siac. I thought then, and still think, that the Siac system (under which a special advocate represents the appellant at closed hearings of highly sensitive evidence which cannot safely be disclosed to him), although imperfect, was the least objectionable way of protecting both those appealing against deportation and the sources of information essential to the effective functioning of the security services. I was a member of the Siac panel for its first case, and nothing about that experience changed my mind. But subsequent developments forced me to conclude that I could not conscientiously play any further part, and in January I resigned.