HC Deb 20 May 1982 vol 24 c466
19. Mr. Christopher Price

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many allegations of miscarriage of justice were made to his Department in each of the past five years; and in respect of how many he took steps to remedy such alleged miscarriages.

Mr. Mayhew

In any one year several thousand representations are received from, or on behalf of, convicted persons, which touch on matters relating to conviction. I regret that it is not possible, without disproportionate effort, to identify which of these should be classified as allegations of miscarriage of justice. I shall publish in the Official Report a table indicating, for each of the years 1977 to 1981, the number of cases in which, after considering representations about conviction, my right hon. Friend has taken action to remove or mitigate its effects.

Mr. Price

I am grateful to the Minister for publishing those figures. However, did he see the three programmes entitled "Rough Justice" on television in which it was fairly clear that two individuals have probably been wrongly convicted of murder? Is there absolutely nothing that the Minister can do to reduce the time-scale by which his Department investigates these matters and make the method of investigation rather more open to scrutiny by Members of the House?

Mr. Mayhew

I am aware of the programmes to which the hon. Gentleman refers. Additional speed in investigating such cases can be achieved only at the expense of thoroughness. I do not believe that that would be right.

Mr. Stanbrook

Will my hon. and learned Friend point out to the hon. Member for Lewisham, West (Mr. Price) that it is not possible to remedy an alleged miscarriage of justice unless it has been proved?

Mr. Mayhew

I should not have thought it necessary always to point out the obvious, but experience has taught me that sometimes it is.

Following is the table:—