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Clause 5 - Duty of Director of

Part of Justice (Northern Ireland) Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:15 pm on 25th March 2004.

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Photo of Dominic Grieve Dominic Grieve Shadow Attorney General 4:15 pm, 25th March 2004

I shall in due course speak at greater length on clause stand part, but I completely sympathise with what the hon. Member for Basingstoke is trying to achieve. I understand the clause—that is not the problem—but I am bound to say that it troubles me. It is not the job of the Director of Public Prosecutions to cross-reference to anybody else in respect of the decisions that he must make on whether to initiate public prosecutions. The matter is as simple as that.

Ombudsmen are there for another, important purpose. I do not disagree that the Northern Ireland police ombudsman has an important role in reassuring the public that the police always act properly. However, I do not understand the reason for the clause. I suspect that this specific clause is needed because the Government have realised that without it the DPP might well say that passing to third parties material relating to the process that he must undertake of deciding whether to prosecute is none of his business. That is exactly what the rule should be. It is not the business of the DPP to tip off Government or quasi-autonomous ombudsmen about material that comes before him. It is important both that that should be the case and that he should not be contaminated with administrative roles that are separate from his role in bringing prosecutions or deciding not to. For that reason alone, I would favour the amendment. In fact, I go much further and think that the entire clause should be deleted.