HC Deb 29 November 1995 vol 267 cc1186-7
9. Mr. Jamieson

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many public interest immunity certificates have been signed by Foreign Office Ministers since 1990. [860]

Mr. Rifkind


Mr. Jamieson

Will the Secretary of State assure the House that he and his Department will not be following the example set by his colleagues in the original Ordtech directors' trial, in which the right hon. Members for St. Albans (Mr. Lilley) and for Mole Valley (Mr. Baker) signed public interest immunity certificates to prevent information from landing in the hands of the directors' defence counsel, simply because, in the weeks leading up to the 1992 general election, that information would have proved at very best that the Government were turning a blind eye to the re-arming of Saddam Hussein?

Mr. Rifkind

The hon. Gentleman is talking complete rubbish. As he well knows, public interest immunity certificates have existed for many years. Ministers do not have the last word on whether the documents covered by such certificates should be made available in a criminal trial. It is for the judge to decide, having taken into account the balance of public interest. That is the right and proper approach.