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Baroness Blatch: My Lords, I would not expect the noble and learned Lord even to write to me about the particular case. I raise the general question of whether a leak of information and documents subject to PII constitutes a criminal offence.

Lord Goldsmith: My Lords, I believe that there is no law that derives from the PII status that makes it of itself an offence to disclose PII material. There may be other reasons in law why that material should not be disclosed. It may be a breach of confidence or even a breach of copyright. But the fact that it is subject to PII is a statement by the judge that the nature of the material is such that it need not be disclosed, even though the prosecution otherwise would disclose it as relevant to the case in front of it. If I can add to that answer, I shall write to the noble Baroness.

I shall make my final point, if noble Lords will permit me to do so. A question was raised about special advocates which I wish briefly to answer. As I said, the European Court accepted that the present procedures are fair and provide sufficient safeguards. We believe that the Criminal Justice Bill will improve the procedures further—that is a matter that the House will see in due course. There have been suggestions, including by Lord Justice Auld, to use special advocates in those applications. Stakeholders gave a mixed response to that. That gives rise to real practical problems in the context of criminal applications, which are different from those that apply in immigration cases. For example, in immigration cases where that arises the person involved

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knows that there is a question of secret information that cannot be shown to him. That is not always so in criminal cases, as I indicated.

The Government, having carefully considered the matter, have the view that the objections to the use of special advocates in criminal procedure indicate that it is not a road that we should go down. I agree entirely

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with noble Lords who asked whether overall we should keep the area closely under review. Plainly, we should. The whole topic of public interest immunity is important. I am, therefore, grateful for the opportunity to set out in short what we have been doing on it in recent months and years.

        House adjourned at five minutes before nine o'clock.


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