Criminal Justice Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 6:45 pm on 30th October 2003.

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Photo of Baroness Gibson of Market Rasen Baroness Gibson of Market Rasen Labour 6:45 pm, 30th October 2003

My Lords, I am not a lawyer, so I cannot argue as one, but I want to direct my few remarks to the question of public confidence in the criminal justice system. I speak in favour of the proposals for retrial and in opposition to the amendment.

The provisions are for specific circumstances for serious offences. They uphold the public interest by ensuring that those who have committed serious crimes are ultimately convicted of them where new evidence comes to light, whether as a result of technological advances or because it was not available at the time of the original trial.

I do not believe that it is right that a new trial should not be able to take place. It not only undermines public confidence in the criminal justice system but leads to justice not being served. The vast majority of people in this country want to have confidence in the criminal justice system, and the clause will help them to do so. People are bewildered when acquitted people themselves admit afterwards that they have committed a crime and nothing is done about it. They do not understand why nothing can be done under the current law.

There are strong safeguards surrounding these retrial proposals. I believe that they are sound and sensible. That is why I shall oppose the amendment.