Information Disclosure: Pre-trial Abuse of Process Hearings

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 11:15 am on 22nd May 2019.

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Photo of Lucy Frazer Lucy Frazer The Solicitor-General 11:15 am, 22nd May 2019

I appreciate that my right hon. Friend’s constituent feels that trust in the criminal justice system has been shaken. That is of concern. I reiterate that as far as I am aware no misconduct has been found by the Bar Standards Board in relation to the case, but I would be very happy—as I am sure it would—to receive any further information that she can provide.

I would like to underline the additional safeguards that exist for defendants and victims when a stay application is brought. There are a number of rules and regulations that ensure that the hearing should be conducted with due notice and in the interests of justice. The Criminal Procedure Rules 2015 set out clearly the timetable that the defence and prosecution should adhere to when preparing for the hearing. For example, the defence application must be in writing and provided to the prosecution and court as soon as practicable after becoming aware of the grounds for applying. The application must include or identify all supporting material, specify all relevant events and identify any witnesses the defendant wishes to call in support of the application. The prosecution must do likewise within 14 days of receiving the application. Both parties must serve skeleton arguments on each other and the court in advance of the actual hearing, so that everyone knows the issues to be determined at the hearing.

Victim care is important in cases of sexual abuse. Mr Perry’s experience demonstrates why it is so important that we continue to make victim care priority in our criminal justice system.