HC Deb 15 November 1956 vol 560 cc1124-5
37. Mr. Collins

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what sum he proposes to pay to Mr. J. P. Harrigan, of Rosemary House, Shoreditch, N.1, to compensate for the wrongful imprisonment he has suffered and the costs incurred in establishing his innocence.

Mr. Deedes

As I said in reply to a Question by the hon. Member on 1st November, it is not the practice, save in the most exceptional circumstances, to make any payment from public funds to a person merely because his conviction has been quashed on appeal. The Court of Criminal Appeal has power under the Costs in Criminal Cases Act, 1952, to order the payment to a successful appellant of such sums as appear to the Court to be reasonably sufficient to compensate him for the expenses properly incurred in prosecuting his appeal or carrying on his defence. The Court did not make any order in this case, and my right hon. and gallant Friend has been unable after careful consideration to find any ground on which he would be justified in making a payment out of public funds.

Mr. Collins

Is the Joint Under-Secretary aware that this is precisely one of those cases which he has just stated do not occur? Is he aware that this man had nothing whatever to do with the crime for which he was sentenced; that it cost him £240 to pay for his defence and appeal; that he had to sell his furniture to raise money, and that he spent five months in prison? Surely the Home Secretary must see that this man gets some compensation for such gross injustice?

Mr. Deedes

The position is that ex gratia payments are made from public funds to successful appellants only if their innocence is established and substantial hardship has resulted from conviction, and that the hardship is attributable to negligence or misconduct by the police, or by other public officials, or the failure of the ordinary judicial machinery.

Mr. J. Griffiths

Does the hon. Gentleman realise that, from the facts recited by my hon. Friend, hon. Members on both sides of the House think that this is a case of very real hardship and such that the Government should reconsider it.

Mr. Deedes

My right hon. and gallant Friend will take note of what the right hon. Gentleman has said.