HL Deb 23 June 1993 vol 547 cc337-8

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will publish the evidence given to, and the conclusions of, Sir John May's inquiry into miscarriages or justice, and if not, why not.

The Minister of State, Home Office (Earl Ferrers)

My Lords, Sir John May's two reports on the convictions of the Maguire family were published in July 1990 and December 1992. He is currently examining the case of the Guildford Four. His report on that case will be published in due course.

Lord Hylton

My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for his Answer, which I find helpful. Does he agree that the second stage is just as important as the first. given that Mr. Giuseppe Conlan died in custody; that the Maguire family were rehabilitated only after serving their full sentence; and that the Guildford Four have had their names blackened in a recent case in which they had no right of reply?

Earl Ferrers

My Lords, I do not want to go into the detail of whose names were blackened and whose were not, but I agree with the noble Lord that all parts of the inquiry are important.

Baroness Mallalieu

My Lords, does the Minister appreciate the urgency of this matter? I speak as someone who was involved in the initial Maguire trial and in a case in the Court of Appeal just two weeks ago in which it appears that failures to disclose relevant information to the defence, a matter which was part and parcel of Sir John May's inquiry, are continuing to occur. When those matters are published, which I hope will be rapidly, will the Minister say that steps will be taken to address any recommendations made so as to prevent the miscarriages which are clearly still continuing?

Earl Ferrers

My Lords, the Royal Commission on Criminal Justice has been set up to consider such matters. Of course, Sir John May is a member of that Royal Commission, and I have no doubt that it will take his views into account.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey

My Lords, the Minister said that the report will be published in due course. Is he aware that there have been press reports that the report will be delivered to the Home Secretary by September of this year? If that is the case, will he confirm that it will he published before the end of the year at the latest? If, as we hope and understand, evidence is to be published, will he say upon what basis any evidence might be excluded from the published version of the report?

Earl Ferrers

My Lords, I understand that Sir John is currently taking oral evidence in private and hopes to report on the Guildford Four case in the autumn. The report will be published as soon as practicable after it is received by my right honourable friend the Home Secretary. Of course, it is entirely up to Sir John what he puts into his report.

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