HC Deb 02 April 2001 vol 366 cc27-8W
Ms Perham

To ask the Solicitor-General if he will make it his policy to prosecute those who produce literature including the phrase "Kill the Jews". [156391]

The Solicitor-General

Each case which the police send to the Crown Prosecution Service—whether involving an allegation of anti-Semitic literature or any other offence—is reviewed by a Crown Prosecutor. All cases are carefully considered to make sure that they meet the tests set out in the Code for Crown Prosecutors, which is issued under section 10 of the Prosecution of Offences Act 1985.

There are two stages in the decision to prosecute. The first stage is the evidential test. The Crown Prosecutor must be satisfied that there is enough evidence to provide a 'realistic prospect of conviction'. He must consider objectively whether the evidence can be used and is reliable. The Crown Prosecutor must also consider what the defence case may be and how it is likely to affect the prosecution case. A 'realistic prospect of conviction' means that a jury or bench of magistrates, properly directed in accordance with the law, is more likely than not to convict the defendant of the charge alleged.

If the case does not pass the evidential test, it must not go ahead, no matter how important or serious it may be. If the case does pass the evidential test, the Crown Prosecutor must then consider the second stage test to decide if a prosecution is needed in the public interest. In cases of any seriousness, a prosecution will usually take place, unless there are public interest factors tending against prosecution which clearly outweigh those tending in favour. The Crown Prosecution Service will only start or continue a prosecution when the case has passed both tests.

Offences under part III of the Public Order Act 1986, which include offences of producing and distributing racially inflammatory material, require Law Officer's consent. Where the evidential and public interest tests are met consent to prosecute will be granted.

Since the heightened tensions in the Middle East there have been a number of reported incidents of the publication/distribution of racially inflammatory material targeting the Jewish Community in London.

The police have arrested individuals and seized leaflets. Files have been submitted to the CPS and are either ongoing, the decision to prosecute having been made, or under review.

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