HC Deb 28 January 1960 vol 616 cc363-5
23 and 42. Mr. Edelman

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) whether, in view of the fact that in cases involving prisoner No. 1184, now in Manchester Prison, and prisoner No. 1961, now in Birmingham Prison, both of whom have consistently protested their innocence, one of the principal Crown witnesses, a police officer, has now himself been convicted of crimes committed previously to his evidence against these two men, he will now remit the remainder of the sentences on these men;

(2) whether, in view of the fact that prisoner No. 1961, now in Birmingham Prison, particulars of whom have been sent to him, was refused leave to appeal against his conviction of 20th October, 1958, and that the police constable who was the leading Crown witness has himself been convicted of a criminal offence since the original trial, he will exercise his discretion by referring the matter to the Court of Criminal Appeal under Section 19 of the Criminal Appeal Act, 1907, or take what other action is appropriate in the light of the new circumstance.

Mr. Vosper

Two persons were convicted together in 1958 of factory breaking and larceny, and were each sentenced to four years' imprisonment. One of them has recently applied for an extension of time in which to apply to the Court of Criminal Appeal for leave to appeal against sentence. My right hon. Friend can find no grounds on which he would be justified in referring the case of the other prisoner to the Court of Criminal Appeal and it would not be proper for me to make any further comment on the case whilst this application is pending before the court.

Mr. Edelman

Was not the evidence of the police officer who was convicted relevant to both cases? Does not the fact of his conviction create a presumption of doubt about the reliability of his evidence in connection with the prisoner to whom the right hon. Gentleman will not give the opportunity of appeal? In those circumstances, and particularly since the inquiries which I made of the right hon. Gentleman were all subsequently referred back for investigation and examination to this very police officer who was convicted, does it not seem that, in the case of the prisoner who has been denied the right of appeal, justice has not been done?

Mr. Vosper

It would not be wise to make any comment while this one appeal is outstanding, but if the hon. Gentleman will put down a Question as soon as that is concluded, I will answer it.

Mr. S. Silverman

In answer to an earlier supplementary question, did not the right hon. Gentleman say that the appeal to the Court of Criminal Appeal for leave to appeal out of time was limited to sentence, whereas the question which is raised by my hon. Friend is not the quantum of sentence, but the conviction? If that is so, does not the right hon. Gentleman consider that, if the character of the principal witness for the prosecution had been known to the jury at the time these men were tried, there might have been a very different verdict?

Mr. Vosper

That may be so, but I would still wish to give the hon. Member a chance to raise this when the Appeal, even on sentence, is concluded.

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