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Prisoner Release Decisions

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 11:22 am on 20th October 2009.

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Photo of Pete Wishart Pete Wishart Shadow Spokesperson (Culture, Media and Sport), Shadow Spokesperson (Home Affairs), Shadow Spokesperson (International Development), Shadow Spokesperson (Justice) 11:22 am, 20th October 2009

I was just coming to that point. I noted that the hon. Gentleman said in his speech that such decisions should be taken out of the hands of politicians. We all have a certain sympathy with that position, but that is not where we were when the decision was made. It was solely and exclusively for the Cabinet Secretary for Justice in the Scottish Parliament, as laid down in statute. It was his decision alone, and he made it not on economic, diplomatic or trade issues, but solely in the interests of Scots law and the best values of Scottish compassion.

When an approach is made for a release on compassionate grounds, regardless of where that is in the UK and regardless of which case it is, the Justice Secretary in Scotland or the Cabinet Secretary in this House has no option but to consider that request and to make a decision based on all the available evidence presented by the statutory bodies involved. In Scotland, in the case that I have been discussing, Kenny MacAskill followed due process, including all the procedures laid down in the prisoner transfer agreement and in the Scottish Prison Service guidance on compassionate release.