During 1994, the Crown Prosecution Service brought cases to a conclusion by offering no evidence in 2.7 per cent. of cases before the magistrates court and 7.3 per cent. of cases before the Crown court. These figures do not include other methods of discontinuance.
Does the Attorney-General accept that one of those cases before the Crown court involved my constituent, Mr. "D", who had to put up with a two-year nightmare for him and his family, facing six charges, some of which involved forgery, and on all of which no evidence was offered and Judge Cole declared that a not guilty verdict be ordered? Will the Attorney-General ask the appropriate authorities to re-examine my constituent's case from start to finish, with a view to ascertaining whether his former employers, ADT Auctions plc, were not involved in a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, as the case was started at that company's instigation?
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for giving me notice that he was going to raise a particular case of concern to his constituents. That case was reviewed. The House will take an interest in the fact that it is the Crown Prosecution Service's duty to keep a case under review at all stages. That duty is sometimes criticised, but it was exercised in the case of his constituent. As a result, no evidence was offered. I make it clear that that means that the gentleman left the court without a stain on his character. I shall invite the CPS to have another look at the matter in so far as that is appropriate.
Will my right hon. and learned Friend confirm that figures are actually falling in other categories of reasons for discontinuance of trials? Should not that obvious trend be warmly welcomed?
My hon. Friend is right. Some two or three years ago, the discontinuance level caused concern to the House. Since then, the proportion of cases that are discontinued in the magistrates courts has fallen from 13.3 per cent. in 1992, to 12.8 per cent. in 1993 and to 11.7 per cent. in 1994.