Just before London closed for Christmas, a small group of lawyers, campaigners and journalists met to share their frustrations. The government was planning to restrict the right to open justice and nobody seemed to care.
Dinah Rose QC had delivered a call to arms at the Reform Club a month earlier, complaining that a government green paper on justice and security would undermine a fundamental constitutional right. "The green paper envisages that civil actions may be tried in circumstances in which one party does not know the other's case; is not permitted to see their evidence or cross-examine their witnesses; and in which the judgment that follows may be wholly or partly secret," she said in her Atkin lecture.
And yet, as she pointed out, the plans had been greeted largely with indifference. The Labour Party had said it would support the coalition's plans. "It troubles me," Rose concluded, "that the government can propose in this way, without any controversy and little fear of contradiction, to legislate for a secret process so alien to our judicial system."
She was right. A column I wrote in November for the Guardian's online law section attracted little attention. The Conservative backbencher David Davis — the only MP to brave the pre-Christmas meeting — believed there was little he could do. An article in the Mail on Sunday by Rose's brother David, an award-winning journalist, attracted little attention in January.