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.
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?
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?
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.