We need your support to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can continue to hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Privileges and Conduct - Motion to Agree

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:45 pm on 30th April 2019.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Lord Hogan-Howe Lord Hogan-Howe Crossbench 4:45 pm, 30th April 2019

My Lords, I had not intended to speak but I will, perhaps for the same reason that the noble Lord, Lord Pannick, did. The noble Baroness, Lady Hussein-Ece, does not need my support, but I offer it. I echo the noble Lord, Lord Campbell-Savours, in commending her courage, but I came to an entirely different conclusion based on the same evidence. I agreed with almost every word that she said.

My first point is on inquisitorial compared to adversarial. The people who support adversarial seem to agree that the process can potentially damage someone’s reputation, but they forget that the 99% of people in this country who are employees can suffer a similarly damaging consequence: namely, loss of employment. Their employer can make a decision to remove them from their employment, which will damage their reputation, and they may not have the benefit of a lawyer. As it happens, a police officer does, because they are not an employee; they are governed by police regulations. This is more akin to an employment issue than to a crime. The consequence is not going to prison for life but being deprived of the use of this place and of the titles and privileges that go with it.

My second point is on cross-examination, which clearly has had many benefits over time but is not infallible. Some of the most serious miscarriages of justice in this country have resulted from processes that have involved cross-examination and yet have not discovered the truth. As we have had to readdress in the last 48 hours, it has also damaged some victims, because the process can go on to destroy the victim, not necessarily always to defend the suspect. These things are changing, but we have to accept that this has happened over time.

I end where the noble Baroness, Lady Hussein-Ece, and the noble Lord, Lord Evans, did. This is not a perfect process: I would support far more—possibly total—independence going forward, because we need to prove to the outside world that, contrary to perception, we are prepared to stand the judgment of our peers outside, not our Peers inside. July is only a matter of weeks away, so we need a far better interim process in place to have succour for ourselves. I sat here in November and got increasingly angry, sad and uncomfortable. I have been in the House for only two years, but I thought it was awful. We should not go through that again. I think all noble Lords accept that, on reflection, we could have acted better. Some—including the noble Baroness, Lady Jones, who is not in her place—acted courageously. Before we go to the adversarial system, we need to think seriously about how others see us as well as how we can improve our process, which this report intends to do.