HC Deb 14 June 1993 vol 226 cc437-8W
Mr. Wigley

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will now introduce a scheme to compensate all those held in custody and subsequently found innocent of charges aganist them on a daily payment basis between the times they are first charged and the day on which they are released.

Mr. Maclean

Section 133 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 provides for compensation to be paid to a person whose conviction is quashed on an appeal out of time where a new or newly discovered fact shows beyond reasonable doubt that there has been a miscarriage of justice. In addition, I am willing to authorise ex gratia payments in cases not falling within the statutory provision in the circumstances set out by my right hon. Friend the Member for Witney (Mr. Hurd) on 29 November 1985, at columns691–92. In all cases where the payment of compensation is approved, the amount awarded is determined after consideration by an independent assessor, who applies principles analogous to those governing the assessment of damages for civil wrongs.

It has been the long-standing policy of successive Governments that compensation should not be payable merely because at the trial or on appeal the prosecution was unable to sustain the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt in relation to the specific charge that was brought, and I have no plans to change this policy by introducing a scheme of automatic compensation for all persons held in custody and subsequently acquitted.