HL Deb 06 November 2002 vol 640 cc743-4

4.36 p.m.

Lord Goldsmith

My Lords, with the leave of the House, I wish to make a personal statement.

In answer to a question from my noble friend Lord Campbell-Savours this afternoon, I said that I did not give a view as to whether the prosecution case against Mr Burrell should continue. In doing so, I was under the misapprehension that I was being asked about the decision last year to begin a prosecution. In fact, I now realise that I was being asked whether I was consulted on the decision to pull the case. I apologise to the House for that misunderstanding.

I am anxious to state the correct position as soon as possible. The correct position is as follows. I first learnt about the case shortly after my appointment.

The Director of Public Prosecutions had drawn the case to the attention of my predecessor in May last year. Thereafter, the case was included in a list of high-profile cases in respect of which brief reports are provided to Law Officers on a monthly basis. We were not asked for and did not give our views about whether the case should proceed. On Tuesday last week, the Crown Prosecution Service and counsel drew my attention to the new information that had been disclosed by the Palace to the police. Naturally, my views were sought on how to proceed in the light of that development, and I gave them. But in the end, as I made plain should be the case, the decision was made by the Crown Prosecution Service following further consideration and having taken leading counsel's advice.