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Several mechanisms are in place to inform interested parties that a case is to be heard. The Court of Appeal sends a written notification of the hearing date to the applicant, the appellant, the prison governor, the prosecuting authority, counsel, solicitors, any witnesses and the police. The court will inform the police or the prosecuting authority by fax within 24 hours of a date being fixed in all cases involving a death or a sexual offence and in cases in which the police have informed the Criminal Appeal Office that the victim or family wishes to be informed of the hearing date.
In three cases of death by dangerous driving that I have dealt with, relatives of the sons or daughters who died found out from the local newspaper that the sentence of the convicted person had been reduced on appeal without their having been able to make representations to the Court of Appeal. Does the Solicitor-General agree that far too many victims or their relatives do not hear that cases are going to the Court of Appeal in London, and that the present linkages are far too complicated and need reviewing?
On the basis of my hon. Friend's comments, I will of course review them. It is unacceptable for somebody who has lost a relative in the course of a criminal offence to discover what happened on appeal in the newspapers. I will look into the matter and raise it with the victims advisory panel, which is chaired by Baroness Scotland, and through which we liaise directly with victims' groups. I would hope that the Court of Appeal would get the information that it requires about the effect on the victim from the victim impact statement, but that does not detract from the fact that the victim's relatives should be present in court to hear about what has affected them so profoundly.