DPP backs plans for three-tier murder charge system

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Calls for US-style murder charges to be introduced in England and Wales were backed by the Director of Public Prosecutions today.

Keir Starmer QC supports recommendations made by the Law Commission for a three-tier system for homicide cases, depending on their seriousness, a Crown Prosecution Service spokesman said.

These were first-degree murder, carrying a mandatory life sentence; second-degree murder, with a life term at the discretion of the judge plus sentence guidelines; and manslaughter, also with a maximum penalty of life.

The Law Commission, which reviews and recommends reform to the law, made wide-ranging recommendations for changes to the legislation six years ago.

A year later, it said the homicide law was a "rickety structure set upon shaky foundations", with some of the rules being in place since the 17th century.

The law could not be stated with "clarity or certainty", it said.

In a further review, published in 2006, the commission suggested the three-tier system which was backed today by Mr Starmer.