HC Deb 04 June 1981 vol 5 c390W
Mr. Arthur Lewis

asked the Attorney-General to what extent his decision to accept the plea on the claim of the defence in the Peter Sutcliffe murder trial of diminished responsibility was due to the advice offered by the Director of Public Prosecutions; and whether he will make a statement on the matters pertaining to this trial.

The Attorney-General

The Director of Public Prosecutions was aware that the defence were not proposing to contest that Sutcliffe killed the victims but that it was proposed to plead to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility. I asked the director to discuss with me the medical evidence of four doctors. The director and I, with prosecuting counsel, conferred with two doctors instructed by the prosecution as to the effect of the medical evidence. As a result I agreed that it would be right to accept a plea to manslaughter principally because

  1. (a) the medical evidence of all four doctors of diminished responsibility was unanimous;
  2. (b) on a plea to manslaughter the judge would be able to pass a sentence of life imprisonment and the doctors were agreed that in their view, whether Sutcliffe was convicted of murder or manslaughter he should remain in custody for the rest of his natural life;
  3. (c) it would spare the families of the victims many days of extensive press coverage and detailed knowledge of the horrifying injuries.