HC Deb 20 November 1928 vol 222 cc1534-5

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he can give, for the last 25 years, the number of cases in Scotland in which a convicted person has been released after serving a portion of the sentence owing to its being ascertained that the conviction was wrong, and in each case the term of conviction, the portion served, and the amount of any ex gratia payment made; whether in any case it was, or was not, specified that a part of such payment was for legal or other expenses incurred by the convict or his friends in securing his release, and the general principles upon which the amount of ex gratia payments is arrived?


As the reply is long and involves some figures, I propose, with the hon. Member's permission to circulate it in the OFFICIAL REPORT.


Can the right hon. Gentleman give the number of cases; and can he state whether in any case anything has been specified as to the costs incurred; and what are the general principles on which the ex gratia payment, are made?


If the hon. Member waits until he has the reply in his hands, I think he will find that it deals with all the points set out in the question.

Following is the reply:

During the last twenty-five years three persons have served period of imprisonment and have subsequently been granted Free Pardons in respect of wrongful convictions in Scotland. The sentences and, other particulars are as follow:—

Sentence. Length of Detention served. Payment made
12 months 5¾ months None.
21 days 21 days £50
60 days 26 days None.

In addition, there has been one case, apart from that of Mr. Slater, where a payment was made by the Exchequer to a person who served a period of imprisonment and whose conviction was subsequently quashed on appeal. The sentence in this case was 30 clays, which was served in full, £250 being paid as an act of grace.

In one of the two cases where a payment was made it was not specified that part of such payment was in respect of expenses incurred in getting the conviction set aside; in the other case no such expenses were incurred, but the letter intimating the payment contained a general intimation that it was made in full settlement of all claims, whether for costs or otherwise.

The Government is not responsible for the verdicts of juries, and ex gratia payments have only been made in rare cases where the results of an erroneous conviction have borne very hardly upon the individual concerned. In fixing the amount of such payment account is taken of all the circumstances, including the grounds on which the conviction is set aside: the length of detention in prison; any element of error on the part of the Crown; any way in which the person concerned may by his own conduct have tended to bring his conviction upon himself; and other relevant considerations.