HL Deb 25 June 2003 vol 650 cc22-3WA
Baroness Gould of Potternewton

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What steps are being taken by the Crown Prosecution Service to address issues raised in the judgment of the Court of Appeal in the case of Sally Clark and the acquittal of Trupti Patel. [HL3620]

The Attorney-General (Lord Goldsmith)

The Crown Prosecution Service will only bring a prosecution if there is sufficient admissible evidence to provide a realistic prospect of obtaining a conviction and a prosecution is in the public interest. It will continually review cases to ensure that such tests are met. In the appeal of Sally Clark the Court of Appeal focussed on the non-disclosure of potentially significant evidence by Dr Williams and the use and presentation of statistical data by Professor Meadow.

The Solicitor-General and I have met the DPP to discuss the implications of the appeal. Since the written reasons of the Court of Appeal were made available in the case of Sally Clark, and following the acquittal of Trupti Patel, the Crown Prosecution Service has undertaken a number of measures. First, interim guidance has been sent to all chief crown prosecutors requesting that all cases be identified in which either Dr Williams or Professor Meadow are witnesses. The defence is then to be served with a copy of the judgment in the Sally Clark case and its attention is drawn to sections of the judgment touching on his evidence. Further and fuller guidance will be provided to prosecutors as soon as possible. This will apply to both present and future cases.

With respect to previous cases in which Dr Williams has given material evidence, the Crown Prosecution Service is presently considering the implications of the Sally Clark judgment and is in discussion with other relevant agencies, including the police and Home Office. I intend to establish a group comprising these agencies to consider whether any cases resulting in a conviction in which Dr Williams has given important evidence require a more in-depth review.

The Home Office Pathology Advisory Board will I understand publish new codes of practice and procedure for pathologists, which will take account of the judicial comments on the methodology employed by Dr Williams in the Sally Clark case. Once published, the codes will be distributed to pathologists.

In its published judgment, the Court of Appeal raised no criticism of the Crown Prosecution Service for its handling of the prosecution of Sally Clark, neither did the judge criticise the CPS for bringing the prosecution in respect of Trupti Patel.