Lyell admits responsibility

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The Attorney General yesterday admitted 'ministerial responsibility' for the failure of government solicitors to brief prosecuting counsel properly in the Matrix Churchill trial.

Despite giving assurances to Michael Heseltine, the brief 'did not adequately reflect' his cabinet colleague's views that documents vital to defendants should not be withheld from them by use of Public Interest Immunity certificates, Sir Nicholas Lyell told the Scott inquiry.

Although refusing to accept personal blame for the judge never learning of Mr Heseltine's view that the documents should be disclosed, Sir Nicholas said: 'I am the minister of the Crown. The Treasury Solicitors' department is one of four departments that fall under my responsibility. Therefore I have overall ministerial responsibility and I accept that.'

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