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Forensic Pathology Services

The Minister for Policing, Crime Reduction and Community Safety (Mr. John Denham): I commissioned an independent review into the provision of forensic pathology services and have accepted the key recommendations of that independent review. There is clearly a need to establish a unified forensic pathology service to deliver the needs of the police service, coroners and the wider criminal justice system.

The Government intend to:

I have instructed my officials to implement the key recommendations of the review as quickly as possible, with the intention that:

by autumn 2003, we will:

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I will continue to take a close interest in progress and will receive regular reports on progress from the Programme Delivery Board established to take this work forward. The delivery board will include representatives of both users and providers of forensic pathology services.

A copy of the review has been placed in the Library.


Cayman Islands

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Mike O'Brien): The Attorney General of the Cayman Islands, Mr. David Ballantyne, has decided to leave office on 15 March, by mutual agreement with the Cayman

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Islands Government. Mr. Ballantyne had come under criticism in the Cayman Islands following the collapse of the Eurobank money-laundering trial. He took the view that this made it impossible for him to carry out his role there effectively. I am informed that press allegations that Mr. Ballantyne had prior knowledge of or had approved the destruction of evidence which led to the collapse of the Eurobank trial are inaccurate. The evidence is that he acted to ensure the disclosure of all relevant information to the defence in order to secure a fair trial, and acted properly in bringing the trial to an end when he concluded that a fair trial could not be ensured. In doing so he carried out the independent role the Cayman Islands Constitution assigns to the Attorney General. Her Majesty's Government are satisfied that Mr. Ballantyne has throughout acted with professional integrity and in the best interests of the administration of justice in the Cayman Islands.

Press reports suggesting that Baroness Amos agreed, on behalf of Her Majesty's Government, to the dismissal from office of Mr. Ballantyne are also incorrect. The independence and security of tenure of the Attorney General is constitutionally protected in the Cayman Islands.