HC Deb 13 February 1984 vol 54 cc82-3W
Mr. Ashley

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland, in each of the past five years, how many requests for a review of their cases were made by (a) convicted prisoners, (b) their representatives and (c) other people or organisations; how many such requests led to a review; how many led to the quashing of a conviction; and if he will express the last two sets of figures as percentages of requests made.

Mr. Younger

The information is not available in the form requested. Requests for the review of convictions resulting in custodial sentences are normally presented in the first instance by the prisoner himself, often supported at a later date by his legal adviser, or some other body or agency or perhaps his Member of Parliament; and the request may be repeated, with or without fresh material from time to time. The table following shows the number of cases in which at least one request for review has been received, from whatever source, and the outcome, in each of the last five years. All such requests lead to review.

Custodial Cases
(1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6)
Year in which initial request for review made No. of cases No. referred to High Court of Justiciary No. of referrals resulting in quashed conviction or remission of sentence No. of remissions granted Columns 4 and 5 as percentage of Column 2
1979 3 1 1 33
1980 7 2 29
1981 17 1 1 6
1982 22
1983 38 1 3

Mr. Ashley

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will detail the procedure followed when a request for a review of a convicted prisoner's case is made; what evidence is considered; and what are the criteria for recommending support for the request.

Mr. Younger

The procedure followed and action taken when a request for review of a convicted prisoner's case is received will depend on the nature and content of the request and the circumstances of the particular case. In all cases, relevant papers are called for and careful consideration given to the representations made. In particular an assessment is made of the validity, weight and significance of any fresh evidence which may be adduced which was not before the court at the time of the trial or any appeal. Professional legal advice will be sought, and investigations carried out as appropriate.

Where it appears that further relevant and admissible evidence has emerged which was not before the court and could not reasonably have been made available at the time of the trial or of any appeal, consideration will be given to a reference to the High Court of Justiciary under section 263 of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1975 or, where such reference would be inappropriate for instance because the fresh evidence is inadmissible in court, to a recommendation to Her Majesty concerning exercise of the Royal Prerogative of mercy. I should stress, however, that the circumstances in such cases are infinitely variable and the precise procedure to be followed in each case cannot be precisely stated.

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