HL Deb 16 October 1980 vol 413 cc1610-1WA

asked Her Majesty's Government:

In relation to the Attorney General's new guidelines on jury checks dated 31st July 1980, how many contested cases in each of the last three years for which figures are available, were (i) cases in which national security was involved and part of the evidence was heard in camera, and (ii) terrorist cases, and what definition is proposed for the word "terrorist".

The LORD CHANCELLOR (Lord Hailsham of Saint Marylebone)

In the three years from 1st January 1977 to 31st July 1980, checks on the jury panel were authorised in one case involving national security, in which part of the evidence was to be given in camera, and in two cases involving acts of terrorism (see table below). There is no offence of "terrorism" as such and most "terrorist" cases in practice involve charges under the Explosive Substances Act 1883 or the Firearms Act 1968, and occasionally, murder. It was found convenient, when drafting the guidelines on jury checks, to adopt "terrorist" as an appropriate description of a particular group of cases, to which reference was made, in view of the definition of terrorism provided by Parliament in the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1976. This isthe use of violence for political ends and includes any violence for the purpose of putting the public or any section of the public in fear". (s. 14).

Table Year (1st August to 31st July)
Type of Case 1977–8 1978–9 1979–80 Totals
National Security 0 1 0 1
Terrorist 0 1 1 2
Totals 0 2 1 3