§ 30. Mr. Gordon Prentice (Pendle)
If he will ensure that debriefing sessions take place between the CPS and the barristers it instructs following acquittals where the pre-trial assessment by the CPS pointed to a high likelihood of conviction. 
§ The Solicitor-General (Mr. Ross Cranston)
Such cases should always be considered carefully so that the reasons for the acquittal can be established. In some cases the reasons are clear. Where they are not, the Crown Prosecution Service is sympathetic to holding such 1043 meetings. The CPS routinely conducts an analysis of all acquittals in the Crown court. A report is prepared by the caseworker who has attended court with counsel, and the report is subsequently discussed with the police. In such circumstances, debriefing sessions with counsel are arranged in order to discuss the issues that have arisen.
§ Mr. Prentice
I thank my hon. and learned Friend for that answer, but debriefing sessions should happen as a matter of course when a case comes to court and the police, the CPS and everyone else have a clear expectation that the jury will bring in a verdict of guilty. The Solicitor-General knows of the case of my constituents, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, whose son Lee was killed in a road accident in Staffordshire in 1997. Seven young men were packed into a car that went whizzing down the motorway at 120 mph. The driver was inexplicably found not guilty by the jury. My constituents, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, cannot fathom why the CPS in Stafford did not hold a debriefing session with the prosecuting counsel. If that were done as a matter of course, it would inform research into why juries bring in the verdicts that they do.
§ The Solicitor-General
I am aware of the very sad case to which my hon. Friend referred. Juries sometimes come to inexplicable conclusions, as anyone who has been involved with jury trials knows. That does not mean that the jury was wrong, or that it was wrong for the CPS to bring the case. It is simply the nature of the process. Juries can come to unexpected conclusions.
There is a good case for debriefing on a regular basis. The CPS has entered into discussions with the Bar Council about how that can be done routinely so as to provide key information to the people involved.
§ Mr. Ian Bruce (South Dorset)
I support the comments of the hon. Member for Pendle (Mr. Prentice), especially with regard to the quality of the prosecution barristers. A constituent of mine who was a witness in a case feels that she was ripped apart with irrelevant questions about her personal life when she was giving evidence against someone. She was not defended by the prosecution lawyer, and the case was subsequently lost. The quality of the people employed seems to be appalling. What does the Solicitor-General intend to do about it?
§ The Solicitor-General
I am not aware of the case that the hon. Gentleman has raised. If he writes to me, I shall 1044 look into it. The CPS receives reports of adverse performance by particular counsel, as a result of which such counsel might not be briefed in the future. Both the hon. Gentleman and my hon. Friend the Member for Pendle (Mr. Prentice) have raised a serious matter, and I shall look into it.