HC Deb 14 February 2000 vol 344 cc597-8
10. Mr. Dale Campbell-Savours (Workington)

If he will discuss witness protection arrangements with chief constables. [108244]

The Minister of State, Home Office (Mr. Charles Clarke)

We set up an inter-departmental working group in 1997 on vulnerable or intimidated witnesses. Its report "Speaking up for Justice", published in June 1998, made 78 recommendations aimed at improving the way in which vulnerable or intimidated witnesses are treated and providing better access to justice. We have made considerable progress in implementing those recommendations, and Home Office officials regularly meet representatives of the Association of Chief Police Officers as part of the national witness support unit network to ensure that progress is maintained.

Mr. Campbell-Savours

My hon. Friend is aware of my concerns about the judgment in the Oyston case and the handling of the McGrath case in Preston. Will he ask the chief constable of Lancashire why it is that Lancashire constabulary refuses to respond to the complaint made by my colleague Mr. Andrew Rosthorne against a north-west business man, of harassment during inquiries that he has been carrying out into the Oyston and McGrath cases? Can we find out whether the Cellnet records have now been checked?

Mr. Clarke

I shall certainly refer my hon. Friend's comments to the chief constable of Lancashire.

Mr. Edward Leigh (Gainsborough)

On the subject of vulnerable witnesses, what arrangements has the Home Office made with the Prime Minister to give political protection to the party's nominee for mayor of London following the successful defenestration of the Prime Minister's nominee as Welsh First Secretary last week—as that London nominee, with increasingly faltering steps, bears witness to the collapse of the new Labour project?

Mr. Clarke

That was a rather contorted political point—possibly following the hon. Gentleman's failure to land any punches in an Adjournment debate on funding in Lincolnshire last week. I do not think that any of the Labour candidates for mayor of London could be described as vulnerable.