Criminal Justice Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:15 pm on 30th October 2003.

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Photo of Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws Baroness Kennedy of The Shaws Labour 7:15 pm, 30th October 2003

My Lords, I shall not detain the House for long. I have not been persuaded by the noble and learned Lord the Attorney-General that this change in the law will bring greater justice. I think that we will see the encouragement of poor investigation; we will see the victimisation of people who have been previously acquitted; and we will see the destruction of the peace of mind that should come with an acquittal. We forget that there are effects on many more people than just the one suspected of being guilty. This is a slippery slope; once it has been done in this area, it will be advanced into other areas. That is the inevitable way of things.

Something which has not been considered is that this could lead to perverse results. Juries struggling towards a verdict may say, "Actually, you know, if you're worried about this, why don't we just acquit. If they really can go back after more evidence, maybe that is what they will do". We may end up with juries seeing it as a way out and, consequently, there being more acquittals, which would be wrong.

We must go back to what the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mayhew, said. This clause is about giving more power to the state; in fact, the whole Bill is about giving more power to the state. That is what is so shocking. We seem to be retreating from principles, which are there for good reason. They have been developed through time for reasons which are about justice and about the quality of our lives here in Britain. We are making great mistakes in departing from those principles. It is a matter of constitutional principle, therefore I seek the view of the House.