HL Deb 04 November 2004 vol 666 cc44-5WA
Lord Hylton

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What action has been taken since March 2001 on the request of Mr Peter Chester, 889983, H M Prison Wakefield, for a review and oral hearing by the Parole Board; how many times a hearing has been postponed; and for what reasons. [HL4304]

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal)

The independent Parole Board last considered Mr Chester's case on the papers in December 2002, prior to the interim arrangements introduced as a result of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) judgment in Stafford.

In April 2003, Mr Chester's solicitors requested that the case be referred back to the Parole Board for reconsideration at an oral hearing, and that a fresh set of reports should be obtained. According to the solicitors, the Parole Board listed the case for an oral hearing on two separate occasions. However, on neither occasion were the solicitors or the Secretary of State told and as a result the hearing did not proceed.

In February 2004, a single member of the Parole Board considered the case under the interim arrangements and recommended that the case should proceed to a full oral hearing. That hearing was scheduled for early May 2004 but was deferred for three months at the request of Mr Chester's solicitors in order that they could commission an independent report.

The deferred hearing was rescheduled to take place on 21–22 September. Unfortunately the judge was unable to attend and the Parole Board rearranged the hearing for 29 September. At that later hearing, Mr Chester's counsel requested a further deferral to enable witnesses to attend. The case has now been relisted for hearing in early December.