Hague attacked over double jeopardy plan
Wednesday 17 May 2000
The proposal by the Tory leader, William Hague, to scrap the double jeopardy rule suffered a setback yesterday when one of his most senior backbenchers said he would not support the policy change.
David Davis, the chairman of the influential Public Accounts Committee, said the plans to abolish the ancient right, which prevents people being tried for the same crime twice, would be a "serious body blow for justice in this country". His frank statement will come as an embarrassment to Mr Hague, who has been eager to use this week to highlight his party's policies on law and order.
Mr Davis, a former minister, said: "While I fully understand and support the aims underpinning this proposed change in the law, it is a reform that I cannot and will not support." Britain's "unbreakable" traditions, that all citizens are equal before the law and are innocent until proven guilty, would be "seriously damaged" if the rule was scrapped, he said.
An examination of the "double jeopardy" principle was part of the recommendations of Sir William Macpherson of Cluny's inquiry into death of the Stephen Lawrence, who was murdered in south-east London in 1993. The Tories opposed abolition of the rule when the report was published last year, but Ann Widdecombe, the shadow Home Secretary, announced the policy change last week. Miss Widdecombe said her party was promoting the move because the Government had failed to redress the balance in favour of victims of crime. But Mr Davis said: "Nobody can feel comfortable that the killers of Stephen Lawrence are still free ... But we should not let this hard case be used to make bad law."
Jack Straw, the Home Secretary, did not support scrapping double jeopardy when the report was first published but the Law Commission of England and Wales is examining the issue. An initial inquiry by the commission published in October backed Sir William's arguments; its report is expected to give a more detailed proposal and a draft Bill could be published by next year.
Mr Straw was understood to have been concerned that any change would infringe theEuropean Convention on Human Rights.
- 1 Katie Hopkins gives rare glimpse of sensitive side with heartfelt open letter to her children penned in case she dies from epilepsy
- 2 Rihanna's Met Gala dress took one Chinese woman 2 years to make, was reduced to omelette meme in 2 seconds
- 3 Top Gear: Jodie Kidd, Philip Glenister and Guy Martin 'in advanced talks' to replace Jeremy Clarkson and co
- 4 Women think Irish men are the sexiest, survey finds
- 5 Florida couple forced to register as sex offenders for having sex on public beach
Italian police 'reveal' what Jesus looked like as a young boy
Who should I vote for in the general election? Take The Independent's interactive quiz to find out which party is the right choice for you
Florida couple forced to register as sex offenders for having sex on public beach
Mysterious 'X-Files' sounds heard miles above the Earth
US gameshow gives woman in wheelchair incredibly awkward prize
In defence of liberal democracy
General Election 2015: Post-election 'shambles' looms as 70 per cent of voters say SNP 'should not be able to veto UK government policies'
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
General election live: SNP suspends two members for disrupting Labour rally
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils
£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...
£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...
£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...
£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...