- '.—(1) Where, in connection with any relevant application made to the Criminal Cases Review Commission, any material falling within any of paragraphs (a) to (c) of section 1(1) would (apart from this section) fall to be disclosed by the Commission to the applicant—
- (a) the Commission shall not disclose that material to the applicant; and
- (b) it shall instead be disclosed under this Act in accordance with subsections (2) and (3).
- (2) The following provisions, namely—
- (a) section 3(2) to (5), and
- (b) sections 4 to 6,
- (3) For the purposes of—
- (a) subsection (1) above, and
- (b) the operation, in connection with any such disclosure by the Commission, of the provisions applied by subsection (2) above,
- (4) In this section—
- (a) "relevant application" means an application made to the Commission for the reference under section 9 or 11 of the Criminal Appeal Act 1995 of any conviction, verdict. finding or sentence of a court in proceedings for a sexual offence; and
- (b) "the applicant", in relation to a relevant application, means the person by or on whose behalf the application is made.'.—[Mr. Robert G. Hughes.]
§ The Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means (Dame Janet Fookes)
With this, it will be convenient to discuss also amendment No. 2, in the title, line 2, after `prosecution', insert'or by the Criminal Cases Review Commission'.
§ Mr. Hughes
The Bill currently protects material that is disclosed by the prosecutor in the overwhelming majority of criminal proceedings. However, there are circumstances in which material might be disclosed by someone else. when the Criminal Cases Review Commission discloses material because of an investigation into an alleged miscarriage of justice. There would be no difficulty when the commission refers a case to the Court of Appeal. When the commission declines to 586 refer a case to the Court of Appeal, however, it is obliged to disclose any material it has gathered that is relevant to the decision, which may include protected material.
The Bill must therefore ensure that the commission does not disclose such material to defendants without supervision. It would be wrong for the statements made by victims of sexual offences to fall through the net, as it were, by default or by imprecise drafting of the Bill. New clause 1 would ensure that the commission discloses material in the same way as the prosecutor. The commission would disclose material either to a legal representative who gave the necessary undertaking to supervise the defendant or to the appropriate person who would similarly allow the defendant supervised access. I understand that to include the new clause in the Bill requires a minor amendment to the long title, hence amendment No. 2 which is linked to new clause 1.
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Timothy Kirkhope)
I am very happy to support the new clause and the amendment tabled my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, West (Mr. Hughes), which relate to the disclosure of material by the Criminal Cases Review Commission. My hon. Friend has noticed a loophole in the Bill which might, albeit in unusual circumstances, allow defendants accused of sexual offences to gain access to victims' statements as well as to photographs and medical reports without any safeguards or supervision.
I stress that the new clause does not restrict the full access which an applicant might need to the material that the commission may disclose. The Bill will not prevent the applicant from fully inspecting any material, whether that material is disclosed by the Criminal Cases Review Commission or the prosecution. It seeks to deal only with the misuse that has followed the current method of disclosure by preventing the defendant from taking permanent possession of the material or making copies of it.
§ Mr. Alun Michael (Cardiff, South and Penarth)
Am I correct in understanding that the new clause deals with an anomaly which might arise after a decision had been taken by the Criminal Cases Review Commission because of the disclosure needed at that time? Will the Minister reassure us that prior to that—before the commission takes a decision, while the matter is still under consideration by the review body or when that body subsequently refers it to the Court of Appeal—the matter is already dealt with by the Bill as it stands? Have I understood correctly?
§ Mr. Kirkhope
The hon. Gentleman has indeed understood correctly.
I hope that the Committee will accept the new clause.
Question put and agreed to.
Clause read a Second time, and added to the Bill.
Schedule agreed to.