HC Deb 12 July 2002 vol 388 cc1238-9W
Mr. Boris Johnson

To ask the Solicitor-General what category of offences require the appointment of(a) a senior Treasury counsel, (b) a leading junior counsel and (c) a disclosure counsel by the CPS. [68084]


There are no categories of offence which require the appointment of a particular type of counsel but guidance is as follows:

(a) Senior Treasury counsel:

The appointment of Treasury Counsel ought to be considered for prosecutions of the following offences:

  • Murder (including attempt/conspiracy/incitement).
  • Manslaughter.
  • Offences involving terrorism.
  • Official Secrets Act.
  • Unduly Lenient Sentences.

Cases where the Director (or the court) wishes to brief counsel as Amicus (Advocate to the Court), e.g. where PII is an issue.

Obscene Publications Act offences involving difficult questions of law or which are considered "sensitive", e.g. racial hatred.

Offences of "special rarity", e.g. blasphemy, piracy.

Serious offences committed by public servants (including police officers) tried at the Crown Court. the magistrates having declined jurisdiction.

Serious offences by a public figure or person in the public eye.

Serious offences by a CPS employee.

Large scale public disorder.

Serious offences where the evidence includes a participating informer/cover police operation.

Offences where the prosecution is likely to make an ex parte application to withhold disclosure of sensitive material on PII grounds.

Offences by members of organised crime syndicates, e.g. Mafia; Triads; Yardies.

Multiple indictable only offences committed by one or more people, e.g. serial/gang rapes

  • Robberies where a firearm was discharged.
  • Large scale/complex frauds.

"Sensitive" frauds, e.g. frauds:

  1. (i) involving foreign government or foreign public bodies;
  2. (ii) involving British public bodies or public figures in this country as either victims or defendants, e.g. very high profile businessmen; national or local politicians;

Local government officers; persons holding public office:

  1. (i) which might generate grave public disquiet, e.g. offences by doctors or pharmacists against hospitals or the NHS;
  2. (ii) involving national or local government spending and procurement;
  3. (iii) where public confidence may be undermined, e.g. Pension fund frauds.

The list is not exhaustive and there will be other cases of sensitivity or complexity, which, regardless of the offence type, may warrant instructing Treasury Counsel.

Treasury Counsel are appointed by the Attorney General to advise on, and if necessary present, on behalf of the Crown Prosecution Service, prosecutions of important and complex cases at the Central Criminal Court and other London Courts.

(b) leading junior counsel

The CPS will adopt objective criteria in its decision to instruct a leading junior counsel. This will depend on a number of factors:

  • Number of defendants charged on the indictment.
  • The volume of the case (pages of documents).
  • The weight and complexity of the evidence.

Whether there are significant factors of gravity, sensitivity complexity or responsibility to warrant a leading junior counsel.

(c) disclosure counsel by the CPS

The appointment/instruction of a disclosure counsel is considered by the CPS according to the merits of the individual case rather than by reference to any category of offences.

The term "disclosure counsel" is not commonly applied across CPS. In a small number of cases, junior counsel can be instructed specifically to assist in complex cases where there are voluminous quantities of unused material to be examined.