5. Letter to the Chairman from Liberty
I am writing following the publication of the
decisions made by the Committee at its first meeting on 19 July.
I have considered this remedial order and it
clearly does what is necessary to rectify the incompatibility
identified in R (H) Mental Health Review Tribunal. However,
I am concerned about potential incompatibility in parallel legislation.
As you may know those prisoners sentenced to
discretionary life sentences are assessed for release by Discretionary
Lifer Panels of the Parole Board. The assessment by those Panels
is based on section 28(6)(b) of the Crime (Sentences) Act 1997
"(6) The Parole Board shall not give
a direction under sub-section (5) above [a direction to the Secretary
of State to release the lifer] with respect to a life sentence
prisoner to whom this section applies unless . . .
(b) the Board is satisfied that it is
no longer necessary for the protection of the public that the
prisoner should be confined."
This provision puts the burden on the prisoner
in exactly the same way as the Mental Health Act does (see R
v Secretary of State for the Home Department, ex parte Watson
 2 All ER 641). I accept that section 10 of the Human Rights
Act does not allow the remedial order to rectify section 28 of
the Crime (Sentences) Act because that provision has not been
declared incompatible. However, I wonder whether it would be appropriate
for your Committee to ask the Government whether in the light
of the decision in H it also intends to amend the law for
18 August 2001