Criminal Justice Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 6:00 pm on 30th October 2003.

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Photo of Lord Donaldson of Lymington Lord Donaldson of Lymington Crossbench 6:00 pm, 30th October 2003

My Lords, I find myself in great difficulty over this matter. From the moment I entered the law, I was brought up to believe that, once a man was acquitted, that was it. I have listened to the speeches supporting the amendment of my noble and learned friend Lord Lloyd. I am talking only about retrospectivity; the other matter is for later discussion and different considerations will apply.

I have heard it said by one noble Lord—I forget who—that, once a man is acquitted, he is in the position of being found innocent. That underlies many of the comments in the media and it is wholly wrong. There is no room in the law for a verdict of innocence. In very rare cases, the evidence may prove beyond peradventure that a person did not commit a crime but, even then, the verdict is only—