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15 Feb 1995 : Column WA37

Written Answers

Wednesday 15th Februray 1995

Maxwell Case: Costs

Lord Spens asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the total costs to date of the prosecuting authorities (including the Serious Fraud Office, the Department of Trade and Industry, the Home Office and the Law Officers) involved in R v. Kevin Maxwell and Others and also the estimated cost to the conclusion of these trials.

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Mackay of Clashfern): The total expenditure by the Serious Fraud Office on the investigation and prosecution of the Maxwell case from its commencement in 1991 until 31 January 1995 is approximately £8.9 million. This figure includes the costs of SFO accountants, lawyers and support staff as well as the disbursements in relation to counsel, accountants and other investigation and prosecution expenditure. It does not include expenditure by the police service.

Neither the Home Office nor the Department of Trade and Industry nor the Legal Secretariat to the Law Officers are prosecuting authorities in relation to this matter.

The future costs of this case will depend on the length and nature of the trial or trials.

Guinness Case: DPP's Role

Lord Spens asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to Baroness Blatch's reply of 30th January (WA.102) whether they propose to clarify the role in the second Guinness trial of the present Director of Public Prosecutions, in connection with the non-disclosure of evidence.

The Lord Chancellor: The role of prosecuting counsel in any case is to consider the material submitted by the instructing prosecuting authority and advise what material should be disclosed to the defence. Such advice should take account of substantive law governing disclosure and the rules of professional conduct. The terms of the advice in any particular case will reflect the professional judgment of independent counsel.

The present Director of Public Prosecutions was originally part of the team of counsel nominated to prosecute the Guinness case but relinquished that role on her appointment to be Director of the Serious Fraud Office after the conclusion of the first trial and before the second trial had commenced.

In so far as evidence in the second Guinness case was the subject of representation to the court in the course of that trial, such matters were handled by independent counsel then instructed to conduct the case.

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Lord Spens asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Director of Public Prosecutions will herself decide whether or not to bring prosecutions against police officers involved in the second Guinness trial on charges which include the non-disclosure of evidence, which it is claimed was done on the advice of prosecuting counsel, of which she was one.

The Lord Chancellor: By virtue of Part IX of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, the report of the investigation into a complaint made by the noble Lord and referred to in his question must be submitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions, who has statutory responsibility for whatever decision is taken. The prior ;involvement of the DPP in this case in her former capacities as prosecuting counsel and thereafter as Director of the Serious Fraud Office would make it inappropriate for her to take any part in the consideration of the case. This will be handled under the auspices of the Director (Casework) in the Crown Prosecution Service without reference to the Director of Public Prosecutions herself.

Director General of the Prison Service: Future Employment

The Viscount of Falkland asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the present Director General of the Prison Service will be permitted to accept any position in the private security industry after the expiration of his present contract, and if any restrictions do apply, whether these were drawn to his attention at the time of his appointment.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Blatch): All civil servants are bound by the Business Appointment Rules, which govern the acceptance of offers of employment on leaving Crown service. Any application under the Rules by the Director General of the Prison Service for permission to accept such employment would be considered on its merits at the time. In accordance with standard practice, the Director General was sent a copy of the Rules on appointment. He confirmed in writing that he had seen and was conversant with them.

Identification Parades

The Earl of Kimberley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, when the police arrange a parade for the purpose of identifying a suspected criminal, those paraded are viewed not only from the front, but from the rear.

Baroness Blatch: Identification parades are conducted in accordance with the Code of Practice for the Identification of Persons by Police Officers (Code D) issued under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984.

Annex A to Code D provides that if a witness wishes to hear any parade member speak, adopt any specified

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posture or see him move, the identification officer shall first ask whether he can identify any persons on the parade on the basis of appearance only. Members of the parade may then be asked to comply with the witness's request to hear them speak, to see them move or to adopt any specified posture, which would include turning about face.

Asylum Procedures: Curtailment Power

Lord Gainford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What use is being made of the power in Section 7 of the Asylum and Immigration Appeals Act 1993 to curtail the leave to enter or remain of an asylum seeker at the same time as his claim is being rejected.

Baroness Blatch: The use of the curtailment power has been reviewed in the light of the first year's experience of the operation of the Act. The curtailment power has deliberately been used sparingly while the new asylum procedures were settling in. We have concluded that it would now be right to make wider use of this power.

A refused asylum applicant with extant leave at the time of his application may, if the curtailment provision in Section 7 of the 1993 Act is not used, appeal twice, first against the asylum decision, and then, if he overstays, against deportation. This is wasteful of resources, leads to delay and is not in the interests of either genuine refugees or an efficient asylum system.

Greater use of curtailment will speed up appeal procedures and make it easier to remove those with existing leave to enter or remain who have sought to abuse the asylum procedures. Genuine asylum seekers are better served by a system that deals with undeserving cases swiftly and effectively.

Section 7 of the 1993 Act allows curtailment of any existing leave to enter or remain at the time of refusal of an asylum claim. Curtailment takes effect immediately the decision is served. The applicant's appeal right is triggered by the service of a notice of intention to deport. The applicant's detention may be ordered pending his deportation. If the applicant decides to appeal, then all relevant aspects of the case, including the asylum and deportation aspects, may be addressed by a special adjudicator at a single hearing.

During the passage of what became the 1993 Act, the Government indicated that it was not the intention that curtailment should be used either automatically or punitively. We propose no change of approach in these respects.

However, discussion of curtailment during the passage of the Bill tended to focus on the case of a person who is admitted as a bona fide tourist but makes an asylum application soon after, thus revealing that the real intention in coming here was to apply for asylum. Experience since implementation of the 1993 Act suggests that it would restrict the curtailment power too narrowly to confine its use to cases of this sort.

At present, some two-thirds of all asylum applications in the United Kingdom are made after entry, rather than

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at the port. Over half of these in-country applications are made by people with existing leave to enter or remain. In the bulk of cases, the asylum application is not made immediately after leave to enter or remain has been granted, but shortly before it is due to expire. We have concluded that in these cases there is significant scope for proper use of the curtailment power.

There will in future be a general presumption that curtailment will be used where available except where this would be inappropriate. Each case will continue to be looked at on its individual merits and, as before, curtailment will be neither automatic nor punitive. Cases where curtailment might be inappropriate include those where it is right to allow existing leave to run after the asylum decision has been taken, where the applicant qualifies for leave to remain under another category of the Immigration Rules (for example if they are married to a British Citizen or person settled here); or where there are compelling compassionate or other circumstances which would make it inappropriate to proceed to deportation action. Where the curtailment power is used, a notice of intention to deport will normally be served at the same time. This is necessary in order to trigger a right of appeal against the refusal of asylum. It will still be open to the applicant to leave voluntarily, either before or (if it is unsuccessful) after the appeal.

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