HC Deb 27 November 1998 vol 321 cc17-8W
Mr. Viggers

To ask the Attorney-General for what reasons he decided that it was not in the public interest to prosecute following an investigation into the circumstances of the disposal of clinical waste at Royal Hospital, Haslar. [61031]

The Solicitor-General

The investigation by the Ministry of Defence police to which the hon. Member refers commenced with the arrest and initial interviews of 2 suspects on 15 April 1997. Following further inquiries, they were charged on 1 December 1997 with offences of corruption and bailed to appear at Fareham Magistrates Court on 2 February 1998. However, the case had not been fully prepared for committal by the time of a hearing on 18 June 1998 and the court discharged the 2 defendants.

On 10 September 1998 my office received from the Crown Prosecution Service a request for consent to proceed against the two defendants for offences under Section 1 of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906; a case may not proceed beyond committal until such consent has been given.

In considering the application, I was mindful of the history of the case. I weighed the seriousness of the alleged offences (including the loss alleged to have been suffered by the Ministry of Defence and the alleged benefits to the defendants) against the fact that the defendants had already faced court proceedings stretching over some 7 months. Almost 3 months further had elapsed. I formed a provisional view that the circumstances were not such as to justify the institution of a further prosecution. I caused inquiries to be made to ascertain what, if any, disciplinary action had been taken against the Ministry of Defence employee involved. I learned that he had been dismissed. I therefore declined to consent.