HC Deb 06 November 1989 vol 159 c671
36. Mr. Winnick

To ask the Attorney-General what recent discussions he has had with the Director of Public Prosecutions regarding criminal cases.

The Attorney-General (Sir Patrick Mayhew)

I have met the director on a number of occasions in the past month to discuss matters of departmental interest.

Mr. Winnick

Is the Director of Public Prosecutions considering the serious allegations about insider dealing by companies? Arising from that, is it part of the role of the Attorney-General to advise the Prime Minister on the need for rules to be tightened on shares held by Ministers?

The Attorney-General

The answer to the latter part of the hon. Gentleman's question is no. The policy of criminal law is the ministerial responsibility of the Home Secretary. I would gladly give the answer to the first part of the question, if I could remember it.

Mr. Fraser

I wonder whether the Director of Public Prosecutions, when he met the Attorney-General, discussed the Guildford Four bombing case. Does the Attorney-General agree that, without disrespect to the courts, the acquittal of the Guildford Four was a ritual by the Court of Appeal, in the sense that they were convicted by one police force and acquitted by another? Can the Attorney-General confirm that the DPP, when giving evidence to Mr. Justice May's inquiry, will take a constructive view of his role, not just to secure good convictions but to avoid miscarriages of justice?

Outstanding cases of miscarriage of justice have often been righted not by the ultimate investigations of the courts but by outside investigations which might be put in hand by the DPP.

The Attorney-General

The hon. Gentleman asks whether the acquittal of the Guildford Four by the Court of Appeal was a ritual acquittal. No acquittal is a ritual acquittal and no conviction is a ritual conviction. The acquittal of the Guildford Four followed upon the Court of Appeal's attention being drawn to new information, which in the opinion of the Director of Public Prosecutions, with which I entirely agreed, rendered the original convictions unsafe.

As to the attitude of the Director of Public Prosecutions to Sir John May's inquiry, I assure the House that the Director wishes to co-operate in the fullest possible way with Sir John May as he pursues the terms of reference that have been given for his inquiry, which could hardly be more widely drawn.

Mr. Gow

What further steps will be taken by my right hon. and learned Friend or by the Director of Public Prosecutions to bring Mr. Patrick Ryan to trial, either in the United Kingdom or in the Republic of Ireland?

The Attorney-General

If Mr. Patrick Ryan is located in any country outside this jurisdiction with which we have the means of securing his arrest so that he may be brought to face trial here those steps will be taken. I assure the House that the Director of Public Prosecutions and the prosecuting authorities of this country will take all steps open to them to secure that Mr. Ryan faces trial.