Criminal Justice Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:48 pm on 30th October 2003.

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Photo of Lord Goldsmith Lord Goldsmith Attorney General, Law Officers' Department, Attorney General (Law Officers) 3:48 pm, 30th October 2003

My Lords, the way in which the clauses put forward by the Government are structured is that the prosecutor will have to agree, when making such an appeal under this section, that if the appeal is refused, then the defendant will be acquitted. There is no equivalent provision to say that a defendant using this provision has to accept that, if his appeal fails, he will be convicted. Currently, if a defendant thinks that whether or not he pleaded guilty depends solely on a point of law, he has already the right to appeal. The ruling is made by the judge. The defendant pleads guilty. He takes the matter to the Court of Appeal which, if it agrees that the trial judge was wrong in his ruling of law, will then quash the conviction—because plainly the conviction coming from a plea of guilty has been based on that ruling of law. So the defence already has that right. A prosecution does not have any right at the moment to appeal against a terminating ruling.

I wanted to comment on the Opposition amendments relating to no case to answer, but the House might be helped if the noble Lord, Lord Kingsland, intervened at this stage to say whether he wished to deal with the matter in this grouping or solely under Amendment No. 70A. Can the noble Lord help?