Enhancing Parliament's role in relation to human rights judgments - Human Rights Joint Committee Contents

Letter to the Chair from Rt Hon Alan Johnson MP, Home Secretary, dated 23 July 2009


  Thank you for your letter of 8 July.

  The Government considers that no individual measures are required to give effect to this judgment, given the Court's findings at paragraphs 73-79 of the judgment. The Court dismissed as manifestly unfounded the complaint that there had been unfairness in relation to the making of the confiscation orders, stating, "There are no grounds to suggest that the ultimate re-imposition of the confiscation orders against the applicants, albeit significantly delayed, was inconsistent with the essence of the offences to which they had pleaded guilty or that they were not reasonably foreseeable".

  The outcome would not therefore have been different absent the violation. Although there was unreasonable delay in the proceedings, Mr Soneji and Mr Bullen were convicted of serious offences and it remains the case that they should be deprived of their criminal benefit in accordance with the legislation.

  In response to your specific questions, we have taken the following steps to give effect to the judgment. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and the Revenue and Customs Prosecution Office (RCPO) have disseminated the judgment to their prosecutors. The CPS and RCPO have issued guidance reminding prosecutors of the need to make progress in confiscation proceedings, to comply with court directions on timing and to have regard to the reasonable time requirement in Article 6 of the ECHR.

  The National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) has also issued guidance to Accredited Financial Investigators in the police service and other agencies reminding them of the need to be ready to proceed with confiscation hearings as soon as possible.

  I am enclosing copies of the guidance issued by CPS, RCPO and NPIA. These have also been sent to the Committee of Ministers, under cover of the Government's submissions of 8 April and 29 June, copies of which are also enclosed.

  In addition, the Government is discussing with the judiciary the most appropriate way to implement this judgment in relation to court processes. Options being considered include a practice direction or circulars to Court staff.

  I am sending a copy of this letter to Michael Wills, Ministry of Justice.

23 July 2009

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