Criminal Justice Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 6:15 pm on 30th October 2003.

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Photo of Lord Goldsmith Lord Goldsmith Attorney General, Law Officers' Department, Attorney General (Law Officers) 6:15 pm, 30th October 2003

My Lords, I thought it was clear. If someone had committed a crime—I am not referring to any particular individual—and the Court of Appeal, the Director of Public Prosecutions and the police believe that there is new and compelling evidence, and the Court of Appeal and the DPP regard a retrial as in the interests of justice, a retrial should take place. I entirely agree that on that occasion, it will be for the jury to determine whether the person was guilty.

On the previous occasion, my noble friend Lord Brennan also powerfully pointed out that the interests of justice, looked at from the point of victims, required and justified the provision being retrospective. I agree with him that if someone who had been in prison for 15 or 20 years could be released because DNA evidence showed him to be innocent, then if compelling new evidence comes forward that suggests that a person who was acquitted of murder 15 or 20 years ago may be guilty, the community would say that it is unjust to allow such a person to avoid a retrial and possible conviction under the provisions.