Southern Daily Echo editor Ian murray clashed with the Lord Chancellor over plans to change the powers of coroners.

Here he gives his own account of that encounter.

Freedom of Information was not the only matter discussed yesterday during a Media Law seminar in London attended by, among others, the Lord Chancellor and myself.

The two of us clashed during questions when I voiced concerns over proposals to change the powers of coroners.

Under the proposals in the Draft Coroners Bill, coroners will be given the powers to decide whether the identity of the deceased should be made public. In cases where the death of a child is involved or there is a verdict of suicide then coroners can instruct the press not to reveal names to avoid further grief to relatives.

I spoke of my concerns over these proposals. These amounted to a worry that the powers would mean that probably the most important of all inquiries - into the death of a citizen - would now disappear behind closed doors. The press would be permitted to report the inquest, but all details of who the dead person was would have to be avoided.

This, I explained, could lead to justice being thwarted. In the case of a dead child, where it is readily accepted publicity surrounding an inquest could add to a family's torment, keeping the names secret would on the face of it appear sensible. And yet how would anyone reading the report know if what was said was true? The basis of all British justice is that it is seen before the eyes of the world. That way anyone who disputes the facts - they lied about being with the child all night because I saw them both in the pub' - can come forward.

Lord Falconer's answer to my concerns was to dismiss them as unnecessary. He explained he could not see how naming the deceased would help justice to be seen to be done.

I believe he is wrong - wrong and dangerous.

Once investigations into the deaths of citizens slip behind closed doors then we enter a new and dangerous world, one where the state can decide whether it wishes you to know how someone died.

Don't think so? Take a suicide for instance. Take - completely hypothetically you understand - the case of say a government scientist who whistle-blows over evidence that lead to war and is later found dead. It's suicide, and because of this the family must be protected - no publicity, move along.

But wouldn't the press just report the death before the inquest? True, which means to slap anonymity on a death at the inquest stage would just lead to rumour and speculation - hardly the way to build confidence.

And it doesn't take Einstein to work out what the next step would be to prevent this - laws to prevent the reporting of any death until a coroner has given their permission.

In other countries they describe such people as The Disappeared.' Don't think this sort of thing can happen in Britain? Go ask the families who have had their children snatched by social services yet the press cannot report their stories because of the gagging orders issued by the courts. But of course, you don't know who they are because we can't tell you.

No doubt the changes being proposed to the powers of coroners are being considered for the best of reasons. There are genuine concerns that families should suffer no more than necessary. I can only agree that steps should be taken to make inquests less of an ordeal.

But not, Lord Chancellor, at further loss of the people's hard won freedoms and liberty.