HC Deb 07 October 2003 vol 411 c49W
Mrs. Anne Campbell:

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what measures he has taken to ensure that evidence presented in UK courts has not been obtained under duress. [131287]

Paul Goggins:

It is for the trial judge to decide whether a particular piece of evidence should be admitted and in making that decision he must adhere to the requirements of the law. In England and Wales, criminal courts have a range of powers to prevent the admission of improperly obtained evidence. In particular:

Section 76(2) of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) prevents the prosecution relying on confession evidence where it may have been obtained by oppression of the person who made it or in consequence of anything said or done which, in the circumstances, was likely to render a resulting confession unreliable. Where the defence contends that this may be the case it is up to the prosecution to show beyond reasonable doubt that this is not the case. Section 76(3) also permits the court to require the prosecution to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the confession was not so obtained.

The Criminal Justice Bill provides for similar statutory protection where the confession is sought to be adduced by a co-defendant.

Judges also have discretion under section 78 of PACE to exclude evidence on which the prosecution propose to rely if it appears to the court that the admission of the evidence would have such an adverse effect on the fairness of the proceedings that the court ought not to admit it. When considering this discretion the court is to have regard for all the circumstances of the case, including the circumstances in which the evidence was obtained.