HC Deb 06 April 1955 vol 539 cc109-10W
Mr. Bullard

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will introduce legislation to prohibit police authorities from enforcing payment of costs against persons who have been acquitted on criminal charges.

Major Lloyd-George

My hon. Friend no doubt has in mind the case of Mr. Harry Fletcher, about which I have received representations. The facts of this case, which were most unusual, have not been made clear in the published reports. Mr. Fletcher successfully raised at quarter sessions a point of law, with the result that the indictment against him was quashed, but on appeal to the divisional court the decision of quarter sessions was held to be wrong. In such circumstances it is normal for the losing party to pay the costs, and Mr. Fletcher was ordered to do so. The proceedings in the divisional court were not directly related to the subsequent proceedings, which resulted in Mr. Fletcher's acquittal; and the costs amounting to £245 which he was ordered to pay formed a comparatively small proportion of the total debts which have since led to his being declared bankrupt. Moreover, he has not repaid the £75 costs which were paid to him by the prosecution following the first hearing at quarter sessions. I have, however, thought it right to invite the Standing Joint Committee to review the circumstances of the case, and I am informed that the Committee have now decided to forgo the outstanding balance of the costs due to them.

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