House of Commons
Session 2007-08
Publications on the internet
Other Bills before Parliament
Bill Home Page

Criminal Evidence (Witness Anonymity) Bill


These notes refer to the Lords Amendments to the Criminal Evidence (Witness Anonymity) Bill, as brought from the House of Lords on 15th July 2008 [Bill 140]




1.     These explanatory notes relate to the Lords Amendments to the Criminal Evidence (Witness Anonymity) Bill as brought from the House of Lords on 15th July 2008. They have been prepared by the Ministry of Justice in order to assist the reader of the Bill and the Lords Amendments and to help inform debate on the Lords Amendments. They do not form part of the Bill and have not been endorsed by Parliament.

2.     These notes, like the Lords Amendments themselves, refer to HL Bill 76, the Bill as first printed for the Lords.

3.     These notes need to be read in conjunction with the Lords Amendments and the text of the Bill. They are not, and are not meant to be, a comprehensive description of the effect of the Lords Amendments.

4.     All the Lords amendments were in the name of the Minister.

Bill 140—EN     54/3


Lords Amendment 1

5.     Lords Amendment 1 makes clear that the identity of witnesses can be withheld from the defence before and during the making of an application for a witness anonymity order. This clarificatory amendment has been made for the purpose of ensuring that the operation of the legislation is not impeded by procedural challenges to the power of the prosecution (or defence where making the application) to withhold this information pending the court’s determination of the application for the witness anonymity order.

6.     The amendment therefore makes it clear that prosecutors are under no obligation to disclose the witness’s identity at the application stage. The same is also made clear for the defence (except that the defence must always disclose the real identity to the prosecutor).

7.     In addition, Lords Amendment 1 makes it clear that the prosecution is under no duty to disclose the witness’s real identity (or related identifying information) where it is proposing to make a witness anonymity application, that is, at any time before an application has been made, where it proposes to make such an application.

8.     Lords Amendment 1 also addresses the question of whether the court must always know the witness’s identity. In the vast majority of cases the court will require to be informed of the witness’s identity, but very occasionally there may be cases (particularly national security related cases) where even the court will neither need nor wish to know a witness’s identity. Lords Amendment 1 therefore requires the identity of a witness to be disclosed to the court unless the court directs otherwise.

Lords Amendment 2

9.     Lords Amendment 2 confirms that the power of the Criminal Procedure Rule Committee to set out further procedures relating to witness anonymity in Criminal Procedure Rules is unaffected by amendment 1.

Bill Home page  
House of Commons home page Houses of Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries ordering index

© Parliamentary copyright 2008
Prepared: 16 July 2008