LONDON - Britain's Supreme Court held the first secret session in its history on Thursday to consider evidence about an Iranian bank's alleged links to Tehran's nuclear program that the British government does not want to make public.
The court's decision to go into a so-called "closed hearing" to hear part of the government's case for imposing sanctions on Bank Mellat is contentious because it means the bank itself will not be shown all the evidence against it.
"This is a decision which is reached with great reluctance," the president of the Supreme Court, David Neuberger, said in a statement in open court just before Bank Mellat's lawyers, the media and the public were asked to leave for about 45 minutes.
"No judge can face with equanimity the prospect of a hearing, or any part of a hearing, which is not only in private, but involves one of the parties not being present or represented at the hearing," Neuberger said.
Civil rights campaign group Liberty, which had intervened in the case to try and stop the court holding a secret hearing, said the decision of the judges was "a sad landmark in British legal history".