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Mr. Allen: The House always listens to my hon. Friend with great respect when she talks about these matters. Is she not reassured, however, that the Court of Appeal would have to hold that such evidence was both new and compelling before any such action was even considered?

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: Yes, that would be so. I must say, however, that my knowledge of the police and the way in which they investigate this crime leads me to believe that if they can interview 800 people in relation to an individual, they will not be deterred from searching out more individuals to support a view that they have about a particular person. That is what many involved in the care sector and social services are facing: allegations not from one or two people but from dozens. Frequently, we find that the police have been unable to realise all the witnesses that they would have liked to have realised for one reason or another: they may be frightened or they may have disappeared or vanished from society for some while. That does not preclude them, however, from coming back at some point in the future. In relation to this measure, therefore, I have great concerns. The police can say, "We realised this number of complainants on this occasion, but by the methods that we are allowed to employ, we will return

19 May 2003 : Column 797

for others if we are unsuccessful, so assured are we that this particular man is guilty of the crimes of which he is accused."

Vera Baird: I do not know whether my hon. Friend appreciates that by saying that retrial should only be available in a trial in which there is physical evidence, she would rule out being retried the case to which my hon. Friends the Members for Stockton, North (Mr. Cook) and for Nottingham, North (Mr. Allen) have already referred, in which the man, Dunlop, killed a lady, Julie Hogg, was acquitted of her murder, and then confessed in the pub, not in the paper, that he had done it. That man is so much a liar that he is currently serving a sentence for perjury, for saying in the first trial that he did not kill her. My hon. Friend would rule out a retrial in that case, and I therefore suspect that she is wrong.

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: We have not had the opportunity today, or on any other day, to talk about the credibility of witnesses and how we determine whether witnesses are credible to give evidence. I wish that we had had that opportunity. I know that the Crown Prosecution Service is consulting on the matter.

I return to my original submission, however, that cases that can be substantiated with physical evidence should be brought forward for retrial, whereas those cases that are substantiated with the methods that I have described this evening should be turned down, simply because an integrity of process with which this House would feel comfortable does not exist. The House does not feel, and did not feel, comfortable with the way we managed physical evidence, and we introduced protocols to manage that.

I believe that the time has come to address the vacuum in the recording and management of verbal evidence. Many people have been convicted on the back of verbal evidence, and thousands of families are sitting at home in fear of what we may confirm this evening. They realise that they are in an indefensible position, knowing that they cannot win in these cases.

Lady Hermon : I am disappointed and surprised that not one member of the Democratic Unionist party is in the Chamber this evening. They were in their places last week on a different matter. However, when it comes to significant changes to criminal justice, it is disappointing that they are not present. Perhaps they will surprise us and bounce into their usual places. I am glad to see my hon. Friend the hon. Member for South Antrim (David Burnside) in the Chamber, united in spirit and body on this occasion.

I am pleased also that the Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland is on the Government Front Bench this evening. Most of my remarks will be directed to both the Northern Ireland Office and the Home Office. It has been a particular concern over recent months that there has not been joined-up thinking between them. I am especially pleased to see Ministers from both Departments in the Chamber.

Members of the Committee who considered the Bill each received a copy of a useful letter from the Minister for Criminal Justice, Sentencing and Law Reform in

19 May 2003 : Column 798

another place, which explained why part 10 was being extended to Northern Ireland. The letter stated that Northern Ireland should not be perceived as becoming


The perception that Northern Ireland could be a place of refuge for those seeking to avoid the operation of part 10 would have a greatly detrimental effect on the confidence of the community and the ability of the criminal justice system. I say hear, hear to that concern.

I suggest that the Minister photocopies that letter and sends it to the Northern Ireland Office and even to the Prime Minister, because at the same time we have proposals relating to those who are on the run. It is a serious issue. We cannot say on the one hand that where there is new and compelling evidence a person should be prosecuted after a retrial, and on the other that he or she should be free to return to Northern Ireland without risk of arrest for questioning or charge in relation to a series of serious offences. Please, will the Northern Ireland Office and the Home Office come to a mutual arrangement so that they understand what both hands are doing at the same time? That would be extremely helpful.

There is no justification for singling out only part 10 in terms of new and compelling evidence and retrials. Northern Ireland is guaranteed by the Belfast agreement, which the Prime Minister and the House generally have regularly told us how much they want to implement, to remain part of the United Kingdom unless and until the people of Northern Ireland say otherwise and vote in a referendum. If that is the case, why are the sentencing provisions in the Bill not extended to Northern Ireland? Why should those who riot in Bradford be sentenced to months or years of imprisonment, while in Belfast, where there was a dreadful history of rioting last year, on a good day someone might be remanded for 30 days? There is no justification for treating people so differently in different parts of the United Kingdom. Departments must get their heads together and treat the people of Northern Ireland fairly and equally with people in the rest of the UK.

Martin Linton (Battersea): I make a plea for a less restrictive approach to double jeopardy. No one puts forward the case now against any relaxation of double jeopardy, but we are deciding where the threshold should be. The Law Commission suggested that we should start with any offence that attracted three years' imprisonment. In its final document, it tightened up its proposal to only murder, genocide, and reckless killing.

I would argue that we should look to the organisation that represents victims in the legal system, which is Victim Support. It argues that we already have a high threshold for retrials. Under the Bill, to get a retrial, evidence has to be reliable and substantial so as to make it highly probable that a person is found guilty. That has to be in the interests of justice and to make a fair trial likely. The Director of Public Prosecutions has to be satisfied that it is in the public interest. Finally, the Court of Appeal must quash the acquittal and order a retrial, so there are already several high thresholds in the system.

Victim Support argues that we should not unduly restrict the categories of offence that can lead to a retrial. It calls for retrials to be possible in the case of all

19 May 2003 : Column 799

arrestable offences. I am not endorsing that, but we are being far too restrictive in arguing, as the Opposition do, for only murder and rape cases. The Liberal Democrats argue for murder, genocide and corporate manslaughter cases.

There is a stronger case to be made for rape victims. If a rape victim sees her assailant acquitted, she will know that her assailant is free, immune from prosecution, and may commit the offence again. She may be imprisoned in her own house by the fear of a repeat of that offence, in the same way as somebody wrongfully convicted is imprisoned for that offence. It is important that we go beyond murder and rape cases to kidnapping, attempted rape and class A drugs cases. Many such cases would come over the threshold and should not be ruled out on the grounds of the type of offence.

I mention one famous case, that of Ronnie Knight, whom a jury found not guilty of the gangland murder of Alfredo Zomparelli, who was gunned down in the Golden Goose restaurant. Many hon. Members will remember the case. He was one of the many people who wrote kill-and-tell memoirs, where he boasted of a murder of which he had been acquitted—

It being six and a half hours after the commencement of proceedings, Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Orders [4 February, 5 March, 2 April and this day] put forthwith the Question already proposed from the Chair.

Question put, That the amendment be made:—

The House divided: Ayes 189, Noes 330.

Division No. 207
[10:02 pm


AYES


Ainsworth, Peter (E Surrey)
Allan, Richard
Amess, David
Arbuthnot, rh James
Atkinson, Peter (Hexham)
Bacon, Richard
Baker, Norman
Baldry, Tony
Barker, Gregory
Barnes, Harry
Baron, John (Billericay)
Barrett, John
Beith, rh A. J.
Bellingham, Henry
Bercow, John
Beresford, Sir Paul
Blunt, Crispin
Boswell, Tim
Bottomley, Peter (Worthing W)
Brady, Graham
Brake, Tom (Carshalton)
Brazier, Julian
Brooke, Mrs Annette L.
Browning, Mrs Angela
Bruce, Malcolm
Burnett, John
Burns, Simon
Burstow, Paul
Burt, Alistair
Butterfill, John
Cable, Dr. Vincent
Calton, Mrs Patsy
Cameron, David
Campbell, rh Menzies (NE Fife)
Carmichael, Alistair
Cash, William
Chapman, Sir Sydney (Chipping Barnet)
Chidgey, David
Chope, Christopher
Collins, Tim
Conway, Derek
Corbyn, Jeremy
Cormack, Sir Patrick
Cotter, Brian
Davey, Edward (Kingston)
Davies, rh Denzil (Llanelli)
Davies, Quentin (Grantham & Stamford)
Davis, rh David (Haltemprice & Howden)
Djanogly, Jonathan
Dorrell, rh Stephen
Doughty, Sue
Duncan, Alan (Rutland)
Evans, Nigel
Fabricant, Michael
Fallon, Michael
Field, Mark (Cities of London & Westminster)
Flook, Adrian
Forth, rh Eric
Foster, Don (Bath)
Francois, Mark
Gale, Roger (N Thanet)
Garnier, Edward
George, Andrew (St. Ives)
Gibb, Nick (Bognor Regis)
Gidley, Sandra
Goodman, Paul
Gray, James (N Wilts)
Grayling, Chris
Green, Damian (Ashford)
Green, Matthew (Ludlow)
Greenway, John
Grieve, Dominic
Gummer, rh John
Hammond, Philip
Hancock, Mike
Harris, Dr. Evan (Oxford W & Abingdon)
Harvey, Nick
Hawkins, Nick
Hayes, John (S Holland)
Heald, Oliver
Heath, David
Hendry, Charles
Hoban, Mark (Fareham)
Hogg, rh Douglas
Holmes, Paul
Horam, John (Orpington)
Hughes, Simon (Southwark N)
Hunter, Andrew
Jack, rh Michael
Jackson, Robert (Wantage)
Johnson, Boris (Henley)
Keetch, Paul
Key, Robert (Salisbury)
Kirkwood, Sir Archy
Knight, rh Greg (E Yorkshire)
Laing, Mrs Eleanor
Lait, Mrs Jacqui
Lamb, Norman
Lansley, Andrew
Laws, David (Yeovil)
Leigh, Edward
Letwin, rh Oliver
Lewis, Dr. Julian (New Forest E)
Liddell-Grainger, Ian
Lidington, David
Lilley, rh Peter
Llwyd, Elfyn
Loughton, Tim
Luff, Peter (M-Worcs)
McDonnell, John
McIntosh, Miss Anne
Mackay, rh Andrew
Maclean, rh David
McLoughlin, Patrick
McNamara, Kevin
Malins, Humfrey
Marshall, Jim (Leicester S)
Marshall-Andrews, Robert
Mates, Michael
Mawhinney, rh Sir Brian
Mercer, Patrick
Moss, Malcolm
Murrison, Dr. Andrew
Norman, Archie
Oaten, Mark (Winchester)
O'Brien, Stephen (Eddisbury)
Öpik, Lembit
Osborne, George (Tatton)
Ottaway, Richard
Page, Richard
Paterson, Owen
Pickles, Eric
Prisk, Mark (Hertford)
Pugh, Dr. John
Randall, John
Redwood, rh John
Reid, Alan (Argyll & Bute)
Rendel, David
Robathan, Andrew
Robertson, Laurence (Tewk'b'ry)
Robinson, Peter (Belfast E)
Roe, Mrs Marion
Rosindell, Andrew
Russell, Bob (Colchester)
Sanders, Adrian
Sayeed, Jonathan
Selous, Andrew
Shephard, rh Mrs Gillian
Simmonds, Mark
Simpson, Keith (M-Norfolk)
Smith, Sir Robert (W Ab'd'ns & Kincardine)
Spelman, Mrs Caroline
Spink, Bob (Castle Point)
Spring, Richard
Stanley, rh Sir John
Steen, Anthony
Streeter, Gary
Stunell, Andrew
Swire, Hugo (E Devon)
Syms, Robert
Taylor, Ian (Esher)
Taylor, John (Solihull)
Taylor, Matthew (Truro)
Taylor, Dr. Richard (Wyre F)
Thomas, Simon (Ceredigion)
Thurso, John
Tonge, Dr. Jenny
Tredinnick, David
Turner, Andrew (Isle of Wight)
Tyler, Paul (N Cornwall)
Tyrie, Andrew
Viggers, Peter
Vis, Dr. Rudi
Walter, Robert
Waterson, Nigel
Watkinson, Angela
Webb, Steve (Northavon)
Whittingdale, John
Widdecombe, rh Miss Ann
Wiggin, Bill
Wilkinson, John
Willetts, David
Willis, Phil
Wilshire, David
Winterton, Ann (Congleton)
Winterton, Sir Nicholas (Macclesfield)
Yeo, Tim (S Suffolk)
Young, rh Sir George
Younger-Ross, Richard

Tellers for the Ayes:


Hugh Robertson and
Mr. Desmond Swayne


NOES


Adams, Irene (Paisley N)
Ainger, Nick
Ainsworth, Bob (Cov'try NE)
Alexander, Douglas
Allen, Graham
Anderson, rh Donald (Swansea E)
Anderson, Janet (Rossendale & Darwen)
Armstrong, rh Ms Hilary
Atherton, Ms Candy
Atkins, Charlotte
Austin, John
Bailey, Adrian
Baird, Vera
Banks, Tony
Barron, rh Kevin
Battle, John
Bayley, Hugh
Beard, Nigel
Beckett, rh Margaret
Begg, Miss Anne
Bell, Stuart
Benn, Hilary
Benton, Joe (Bootle)
Berry, Roger
Blackman, Liz
Blears, Ms Hazel
Blizzard, Bob
Blunkett, rh David
Boateng, rh Paul
Borrow, David
Bradley, rh Keith (Withington)
Bradshaw, Ben
Brennan, Kevin
Brown, rh Nicholas (Newcastle E Wallsend)
Brown, Russell (Dumfries)
Browne, Desmond
Bryant, Chris
Buck, Ms Karen
Burden, Richard
Burgon, Colin
Burnham, Andy
Burnside, David
Byers, rh Stephen
Caborn, rh Richard
Cairns, David
Campbell, Alan (Tynemouth)
Campbell, Mrs Anne (C'bridge)
Campbell, Ronnie (Blyth V)
Caplin, Ivor
Casale, Roger
Cawsey, Ian (Brigg)
Challen, Colin
Chapman, Ben (Wirral S)
Chaytor, David
Clapham, Michael
Clark, Mrs Helen (Peterborough)
Clark, Dr. Lynda (Edinburgh Pentlands)
Clark, Paul (Gillingham)
Clarke, rh Charles (Norwich S)
Clarke, rh Tom (Coatbridge & Chryston)
Clarke, Tony (Northampton S)
Clelland, David
Clwyd, Ann (Cynon V)
Coaker, Vernon
Coffey, Ms Ann
Cohen, Harry
Coleman, Iain
Colman, Tony
Connarty, Michael
Cook, Frank (Stockton N)
Cook, rh Robin (Livingston)
Cooper, Yvette
Corston, Jean
Cousins, Jim
Cox, Tom (Tooting)
Cranston, Ross
Crausby, David
Cruddas, Jon
Cryer, John (Hornchurch)
Cunningham, rh Dr. Jack (Copeland)
Cunningham, Jim (Coventry S)
Cunningham, Tony (Workington)
Dalyell, Tam
Davey, Valerie (Bristol W)
David, Wayne
Davidson, Ian
Dawson, Hilton
Dean, Mrs Janet
Denham, rh John
Dhanda, Parmjit
Dismore, Andrew
Dobbin, Jim (Heywood)
Donohoe, Brian H.
Doran, Frank
Dowd, Jim (Lewisham W)
Drew, David (Stroud)
Eagle, Angela (Wallasey)
Eagle, Maria (L'pool Garston)
Edwards, Huw
Efford, Clive
Ellman, Mrs Louise
Ennis, Jeff (Barnsley E)
Farrelly, Paul
Field, rh Frank (Birkenhead)
Fisher, Mark
Fitzpatrick, Jim
Flint, Caroline
Flynn, Paul (Newport W)
Follett, Barbara
Foster, Michael (Worcester)
Foster, Michael Jabez (Hastings & Rye)
Foulkes, rh George
Gapes, Mike (Ilford S)
Gardiner, Barry
Gerrard, Neil
Gibson, Dr. Ian
Gilroy, Linda
Godsiff, Roger
Goggins, Paul
Griffiths, Jane (Reading E)
Griffiths, Nigel (Edinburgh S)
Griffiths, Win (Bridgend)
Grogan, John
Hall, Mike (Weaver Vale)
Hall, Patrick (Bedford)
Hamilton, David (Midlothian)
Hamilton, Fabian (Leeds NE)
Hanson, David
Harman, rh Ms Harriet
Harris, Tom (Glasgow Cathcart)
Havard, Dai (Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney)
Healey, John
Henderson, Doug (Newcastle N)
Henderson, Ivan (Harwich)
Hendrick, Mark
Hepburn, Stephen
Heppell, John
Hermon, Lady
Hesford, Stephen
Hewitt, rh Ms Patricia
Heyes, David
Hill, Keith (Streatham)
Hinchliffe, David
Hodge, Margaret
Hood, Jimmy (Clydesdale)
Hoon, rh Geoffrey
Hope, Phil (Corby)
Hopkins, Kelvin
Howarth, rh Alan (Newport E)
Howarth, George (Knowsley N & Sefton E)
Howells, Dr. Kim
Hughes, Beverley (Stretford & Urmston)
Hughes, Kevin (Doncaster N)
Humble, Mrs Joan
Hurst, Alan (Braintree)
Hutton, rh John
Iddon, Dr. Brian
Ingram, rh Adam
Irranca-Davies, Huw
Jackson, Glenda (Hampstead & Highgate)
Jackson, Helen (Hillsborough)
Jamieson, David
Jenkins, Brian
Johnson, Alan (Hull W)
Jones, Helen (Warrington N)
Jones, Jon Owen (Cardiff C)
Jones, Kevan (N Durham)
Jowell, rh Tessa
Joyce, Eric (Falkirk W)
Kaufman, rh Gerald
Keeble, Ms Sally
Keen, Ann (Brentford)
Kemp, Fraser
Kennedy, Jane (Wavertree)
Khabra, Piara S.
Kidney, David
King, Andy (Rugby)
King, Ms Oona (Bethnal Green & Bow)
Knight, Jim (S Dorset)
Kumar, Dr. Ashok
Ladyman, Dr. Stephen
Lammy, David
Lawrence, Mrs Jackie
Laxton, Bob (Derby N)
Lepper, David
Levitt, Tom (High Peak)
Lewis, Terry (Worsley)
Liddell, rh Mrs Helen
Linton, Martin
Love, Andrew
Lucas, Ian (Wrexham)
McAvoy, Thomas
McCabe, Stephen
McCafferty, Chris
McCartney, rh Ian
McDonagh, Siobhain
MacDonald, Calum
MacDougall, John
McGuire, Mrs Anne
McIsaac, Shona
McKechin, Ann
McKenna, Rosemary
Mackinlay, Andrew
McNamara, Kevin
McNulty, Tony
MacShane, Denis
McWalter, Tony
McWilliam, John
Mahon, Mrs Alice
Mallaber, Judy
Mandelson, rh Peter
Mann, John (Bassetlaw)
Marris, Rob (Wolverh'ton SW)
Marsden, Gordon (Blackpool S)
Martlew, Eric
Meacher, rh Michael
Merron, Gillian
Michael, rh Alun
Miliband, David
Miller, Andrew
Moffatt, Laura
Mole, Chris
Moonie, Dr. Lewis
Morley, Elliot
Mountford, Kali
Mullin, Chris
Munn, Ms Meg
Murphy, Denis (Wansbeck)
Murphy, rh Paul (Torfaen)
Naysmith, Dr. Doug
O'Brien, Bill (Normanton)
Olner, Bill
O'Neill, Martin
Organ, Diana
Osborne, Sandra (Ayr)
Palmer, Dr. Nick
Pearson, Ian
Perham, Linda
Picking, Anne
Pickthall, Colin
Pike, Peter (Burnley)
Plaskitt, James
Pollard, Kerry
Pond, Chris (Gravesham)
Pope, Greg (Hyndburn)
Pound, Stephen
Prentice, Ms Bridget (Lewisham E)
Primarolo, rh Dawn
Prosser, Gwyn
Purnell, James
Quin, rh Joyce
Quinn, Lawrie
Rammell, Bill
Rapson, Syd (Portsmouth N)
Raynsford, rh Nick
Reed, Andy (Loughborough)
Robertson, John (Glasgow Anniesland)
Robinson, Geoffrey (Coventry NW)
Roche, Mrs Barbara
Rooney, Terry
Ross, Ernie (Dundee W)
Ruane, Chris
Ruddock, Joan
Ryan, Joan (Enfield N)
Salter, Martin
Sarwar, Mohammad
Savidge, Malcolm
Sawford, Phil
Sedgemore, Brian
Shaw, Jonathan
Sheerman, Barry
Sheridan, Jim
Shipley, Ms Debra
Simon, Siôn (B'ham Erdington)
Singh, Marsha
Smith, rh Andrew (Oxford E)
Smith, Angela (Basildon)
Smith, rh Chris (Islington S & Finsbury)
Smith, Geraldine (Morecambe & Lunesdale)
Smith, Jacqui (Redditch)
Smith, Llew (Blaenau Gwent)
Soley, Clive
Southworth, Helen
Spellar, rh John
Squire, Rachel
Starkey, Dr. Phyllis
Steinberg, Gerry
Stevenson, George
Stewart, David (Inverness E & Lochaber)
Stinchcombe, Paul
Stoate, Dr. Howard
Strang, rh Dr. Gavin
Stringer, Graham
Stuart, Ms Gisela
Tami, Mark (Alyn)
Taylor, rh Ann (Dewsbury)
Taylor, Dari (Stockton S)
Taylor, David (NW Leics)
Thomas, Gareth (Clwyd W)
Thomas, Gareth (Harrow W)
Timms, Stephen
Tipping, Paddy
Todd, Mark (S Derbyshire)
Touhig, Don (Islwyn)
Trickett, Jon
Truswell, Paul
Turner, Dennis (Wolverh'ton SE)
Turner, Dr. Desmond (Brighton Kemptown)
Turner, Neil (Wigan)
Twigg, Derek (Halton)
Twigg, Stephen (Enfield)
Tynan, Bill (Hamilton S)
Vaz, Keith (Leicester E)
Walley, Ms Joan
Wareing, Robert N.
Watson, Tom (W Bromwich E)
Watts, David
White, Brian
Whitehead, Dr. Alan
Wicks, Malcolm
Williams, rh Alan (Swansea W)
Wills, Michael
Winnick, David
Winterton, Ms Rosie (Doncaster C)
Woodward, Shaun
Woolas, Phil
Worthington, Tony
Wright, Anthony D. (Gt Yarmouth)
Wright, David (Telford)
Wright, Tony (Cannock)

Tellers for the Noes:


Dan Norris and
Mr. Gerry Sutcliffe

Question accordingly negatived.

19 May 2003 : Column 803

Mr. Speaker then proceeded to put forthwith the Questions necessary for the disposal of business to be concluded at that hour.


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