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Clegg hit by party's courts ruling
Nick Clegg has suffered a stinging defeat after Liberal Democrat activists overwhelmingly rejected so-called secret courts legislation
Nick Clegg has suffered a stinging defeat after Liberal Democrat activists overwhelmingly rejected so-called secret courts legislation.
The party's spring conference ordered their MPs and peers to oppose the plans, saying they were contrary to "core" Lib Dem values.
Lawyer Jo Shaw announced in the hall that she was resigning her membership in protest - joining human rights barrister Dinah Rose QC.
The row came despite Mr Clegg defending his handling of the issue in a bad-tempered question and answer session last night.
The Justice and Security Bill was given its third reading in the Commons last week, despite a rebellion from some Tories and Lib Dem MPs and continuing opposition from civil rights campaigners.
Members ignored pleas from deputy leader Simon Hughes and justice minister Lord McNally to pass the emergency motion after a half-hour debate.
Ms Shaw said the leadership had "abandoned liberal values for the privileges of power".
"The Lib Dem leadership have decided that civil liberties is not a red line issue," she said. "I am today resigning from the Liberal Democrats. I am a liberal and I am a democrat and we are against this sort of thing."
But Lord McNally warned that blocking the legislation, which would allow for courts to sit in secret in some civil cases, would mean there was less scrutiny of the security services. They would continue to pay compensation rather than disclose sensitive information in public, causing serious "reputational damage".
"The Bill that will come back to the Lords is dramatically changed... mainly due to the work of Nick Clegg, (Lib Dem MP) Julian Huppert and others," he told the audience in Brighton.