Wrongly Charged Persons (Compensation)

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 25th July 1968.

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Photo of Mr Edward Lyons Mr Edward Lyons , Bradford East 12:00 am, 25th July 1968

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has completed his review of the policy in regard to compensation to persons wrongly charged with offences of which another person is subsequently convicted; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Mr David Ennals Mr David Ennals , Dover

Under present practiceex gratia payments from public funds are not normally made to persons acquitted by the courts unless there has been some negligence or misconduct on the part of the police or some other public authority or official. While I am very conscious of the hardship caused to innocent persons wrongly charged, I think it would be wrong to attempt to discriminate otherwise between acquitted defendants. I regret therefore that, after careful consideration, I do not feel able to modify existing practice.

Photo of Mr Edward Lyons Mr Edward Lyons , Bradford East

Does this not mean that people who, through no fault of their own, have been convicted, and who have spent a substantial time in prison, have no remedy whatever? Is this not a denial of natural justice? Cannot the matter be reconsidered?

Photo of Mr David Ennals Mr David Ennals , Dover

I will bring my hon. Friend's observation to the attention of my right hon. Friend.

Photo of Mr Jeremy Thorpe Mr Jeremy Thorpe , North Devon

If monetary compensation is not to be given, is it not none the less outrageous that a totally innocent man should be accorded, at the best, a free pardon, which term implies he had some guilt attaching? Could not this at least be looked into?

Photo of Mr David Ennals Mr David Ennals , Dover

As I said in my original reply, my right hon. Friend is conscious of the hardship to innocent persons who are wrongly charged. I will draw the hon. Gentleman's observation to my right hon. Friend's attention.