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Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness, Lady Uddin, for those remarks. I believe that Jack Straw took the right decision in setting up a public inquiry, publicly funded and with an undertaking to publish its findings. He was right to support Sir Paul Condon when it would have been easy not to do so. I agree with the noble Baroness that the Daily Mail under the editorship of Paul Dacre has performed a valuable public service in expressing the real, bitter anger I mentioned earlier, and disseminating that widely to a critical audience in our society. I believe that he and his newspaper have done noble work which a free press ought to be able to do, even if a free press sometimes comes to conclusions with which we do not always agree.
In respect of the latter two points the noble Baroness raised, there is, of course--as mentioned in the Statement made by Jack Straw, which I repeated-- the retrospective review of unsolved murders in this particular context. The noble Baroness and your Lordships will know of the reinvestigation of the death of Mr. Michael Manson, which is being conducted with real vigour--I can say that from personal knowledge--
The Lord Bishop of Southwark: My Lords, I believe that Sir Paul Condon is an issue. I was bishop in north London when Paul Condon became the ADC of north west London. He was responsible for the policing of the Notting Hill carnival. The transformation he brought to that event through community consent was remarkable. The community became calm and the carnival became a happy event which the police and other people thoroughly enjoyed. No one could have brought more commitment to the task of eradicating racism from the Metropolitan police force. When I came back to London last year I was sad to discover that as regards a murder which occurred "on the patch" in my diocese, Sir Paul had not been able to eradicate racism within the Metropolitan police force. It illustrates just what a difficult task this is. Frankly, if he could not complete that task, with his conviction and commitment, it will not be easily done. Why is that the case? I believe the problem arises from the enormous scale of the force.
I was a bishop in Leicester. The Leicester police have an enviable record of eradicating racism from within their ranks but it is a relatively small force and therefore the culture of the senior management can be imposed throughout the force. Every serving police officer has to spend several weekends living with a family from the ethnic minority community. However, the task is far more difficult as regards the Metropolitan force. Does the Minister agree that either Sir Paul or his successor who tackles this task, will need the support and encouragement of us all?
Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, I am most grateful to the right reverend Prelate for his support of Sir Paul Condon. I absolutely agree with the proposition that he put to me finally, as I hope I have tried to make clear on every occasion when we have addressed these matters. It is not a question of police officers and the police service, nor of parts of the criminal justice system, nor of parts of the education system or the National Health Service. It is a question of attacking fundamental attitudes which we are reluctant to admit our society indulges in.
Lord Hooson: My Lords, does the noble Lord agree that Sir William Macpherson and his advisers are to be congratulated on the report, of which I have read a good deal between the time that Jack Straw sat down and the present time? It is an incisive, clear, unambiguous report. When you think that the inquiry considered 100,000 pages of documents and sat for 70 days in all, the report, of just over 300 pages, is a masterpiece of direct presentation and conclusion. I agree with the noble Lord that the influence of the report will be very much greater than that of the Scarman Report.
The noble Lord and I, between us, have probably been involved in many, many murder cases. He knows, as I do, that what is really at the root of this case--the horrific murder of a youngster by a gang--is that, from the outset, the reflex action of the officers was different
I am sure that the noble Lord will agree that there is institutionalised prejudice in our country and that we have to take steps to overcome it. He and I know, I am sure, that there are institutionalised prejudices in the robing room and even on the Bench. We have been aware of that. They have changed, perhaps, over the years and are changing. They continually change.
Having said that, there is one matter that I would ask the noble Lord to consider very carefully. It is the suggestion that the Court of Appeal be given power to permit prosecution after acquittal where fresh and viable evidence is presented. That would be a very, very dangerous step. Hard cases make bad law. This is a hard case. The evidence should have been there if the investigation had been properly undertaken. To change the law on this matter because of this case would be a very dangerous step indeed. Does the Minister not consider that a better solution might be to change the procedure of inquiry in serious criminal cases of this kind?
Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Hooson is right. There is institutionalised prejudice, and--reverting to what I said earlier--not least in the apparently respectable areas of our society like the legal profession, as the noble Lord has just described. I will do no more than say that there is a wide spectrum in the legal profession--from the Law Society to the Bar Council, to practitioners, to the Bench, as the noble Lord mentioned, and to the Inns of Court--if we want to think about outcomes.
The noble Lord is right to say that one does not want to change the law in a hurried, ill-considered way. Again, that is why I think it is absolutely right that we should ask the Law Commission to look at this very difficult area of the law. At the moment there is of course an exception if the facts demonstrate that the acquittal was by virtue of interference with, or intimidation of, witnesses or jurors. Sections 54 to 57 of the Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act 1996 do, I agree exceptionally, allow the acquittal to be overturned. The noble Lord is quite right. One has to be very careful indeed that one does not produce further wrongs in addressing this undoubted shame. It is right to ask the Law Commission to put its mind to this issue. If one looks at the productions the Law Commission has been able to bring about in discussing criminal law, one notices that they are of very high quality indeed.
Lord Laming: My Lords, I congratulate the noble Lord on repeating the Statement and on the way he has responded to noble Lords. It has been most encouraging, informative and sensitive. I invite the Minister to reinforce the messages in the report about racism, both intended and unintended, and to say that these messages are for every organisation, not just those the subject of the inquiry. Those message are for us all.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, I agree with the noble Lord. But we have to focus on particular organisations. As Jack Straw said, it is very important that he accepts immediately the expansion of the remit of the race relations legislation to the police and other similar institutions. He is, after all, the Home Secretary, and he made a point of indicating that he does not simply want to pass by on the other side. He said that we have not got things right in the Home Office; we have not got things right in government departments. I agree with the noble Lord that attitudes must change, but the only significant way to change attitudes is to have structural mechanisms which are capable of enforcement. The secret thoughts of the human heart are not capable of monitoring or enforcement.
Lord Elton: My Lords, we are aware of and admire the programme that Sir Paul has introduced in London in the full glare of publicity. It will be taken forward under the eye of the Home Office, which is still effectively--but not for long--the police authority. Can the Minister tell us how similar programmes will be taken forward in other forces? In paragraph 46.27, the report tells us that similar conditions exist in other forces, and the Statement states that this is confirmed by HMI reports. I am afraid that the other question I would ask the noble Lord is curtailed by the clock.
Lord Elton: My Lords, if the noble Lord is forgiving, I would ask him whether he subscribes to the views touched on by the right reverend Prelate, which seem to suggest that racism not only causes but arises from fear and mistrust. Communities are separated by cultural differences, as by a screen, and until that screen is removed, people cannot learn to respect, like or trust members of communities they do not understand and discover that there are good and bad people among those of other colours as there are among their own. Therefore, programmes of home visits--which seem incredibly expensive--are nevertheless the only way we will resolve the problem.
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