Crime Bill defeat in Lords

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The Independent Online
The Government is considering its response to a Lords defeat on the question of increased protection for magistrates against costs being awarded against them.

Peers voted by 80 to 72 to support demands led by the former law lord Lord Ackner during a debate on the Criminal Procedure and Investigations Bill.

The move follows a European Commission on Human Rights decision last year that the Dorset poll tax defaulter Stephen Benham should be compensated for "false imprisonment".

A decision by the European Court is expected within the two months, but fears have been expressed the precedent could make JPs personally liable for costs of up to pounds 40m. A Lord Chancellor's Department spokesman said the amendment affected criminal cases only.

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