HC Deb 02 March 1999 vol 326 cc698-9W
Mr. Mullin

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) what steps have been taken to interview new witnesses or witnesses who have changed their evidence in the case of Stuart Gair; and if he will make a statement; [68173]

(2) what date he received a submission on behalf of Stuart Gair; what action he has taken; and when he expects to complete his consideration. [68188]

Mr. McLeish

[holding answer 4 February 1999] A petition claiming a miscarriage of justice in Stuart Gair's conviction was submitted by Mr. Gair's solicitor to my right hon. Friend on 10 September 1998.

An initial review of the new evidence in Mr. Gair's case has been carried out by the Scottish Office and clarifications and further information sought from the solicitor. However, no interviews or inquiries have yet been commissioned. Mr. Gair's solicitor has indicated that he does not want the Crown Office to be involved in the examination of this case and has requested that my right hon. Friend appoint an impartial body to carry out any investigations.

In the light of this continuing objection by Mr. Gair's solicitor, the most appropriate way forward would seem to be for the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission to instruct or carry out any necessary investigations once it comes into operation on 1 April this year. The new Commission will have powers to undertake its own inquiries and to obtain statements and reports. One of the main intentions behind our setting up this Commission is to make the review of alleged miscarriages of justice in Scotland clearly independent and to ensure public confidence in the process.

In these circumstances we are not in a position to estimate how long it might be before a decision is reached in this case.

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