HC Deb 09 July 1964 vol 698 cc128-9W
56. Mr. Driberg

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the escape from custody of Kenneth de Courcy; what is the yearly average number of prisoners in Wormwood Scrubs who are granted leave to appeal against conviction and are allowed to attend the hearing of their appeals; how many of these are given permission to consult their solicitors at the solicitors' offices instead of in prison; and why de Courcy was given this special privilege.

Mr. Brooke

Special facilities for the preparation by this prisoner of his appeal were granted at the request of his solicitors because the matters at issue involved reference to a large number of documents. These were so numerous that it would scarcely have been possible for the necessary consultations between the prisoner and his legal advisers to take place within the prison, as is the normal practice. It was solely for this reason that I authorised visits by the prisoner to his solicitors' offices while the appeal was pending.

Owing to a failure in the transmission of instructions within my Department which I greatly regret, these special facilities were wrongly allowed to continue during the hearing of the appeal. I have expressed my apologies to the Court of Criminal Appeal for this serious mistake. Steps have been taken to safeguard against any recurrence.

The yearly average number of prisoners in Wormwood Scrubs who have been produced in court in connection with an appeal against conviction has in recent years been about 20. No other case has arisen in which the grant of special facilities to visit their solicitors' office while preparing their appeal has been necessary.