Law Lords and the silence of the witnesses…

Over at the Telegraph, I’ve a piece on the implications of the House of Lords decision to refer to the legislature the question of whether witnesses should be allowed anonymity during trials where there is a possibility they might be intimidated. The problem is more complex than it seems as it involves the breach of some ancient tenets of English common law. In most cases, there is no need to resort to such remedies. In London, for instance, the murder clear up rate stands between 80%-90%. The problem comes primarily when dealing with gangland, or organised killings, as the 3,628 3,268 unsolved murder cases in Northern Ireland from the 1969-1998 suggests. More over at the Telegraph…

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  • Mick,

    … the 3,628 unsolved murder cases in Northern Ireland from the 1969-1998 …

    Malcolm Sutton’s Index of Deaths from the Conflict in Ireland (http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/sutton/) gives 3,524 as the total number of conflict-related deaths between 14 July 1969 and 31 December 2001. And we all know that many of these deaths were solved. So are you perhaps being sloppy with your stats?

  • Garibaldy

    Is this not just England and Wales?

  • Brian Walker

    Mick,

    Right at the start of PMQs, Gordon Brown had a prompt answer to concerns that the government would run out of time by the start of the summer recess on 22 July, before they could get a Bill together to override the implications of the Lords’ decision. The Bill will be introduced next week – so they’re not hanging about. It puts me in mind of the panics that seized the government when one day Acts were rushed in to overcome the latest breakdown in previous Assemblies.

    PM:
    “This morning, I had meetings and discussions with ministerial colleagues, including, as the House will want to know, on the subject of bringing forward next week immediate legislation to enable the courts to grant anonymity to witnesses in cases such as those involving organised crime and witness intimidation. I hope and believe that we can do that with all-party support. In addition to my duties in this House, I shall have further such meetings with Ministers later today”.

  • Mick Fealty

    Horse,

    Thought I had put the link in the Telegraph piece:

    “The Historical Enquiries Team, which has a budget of more than £30m, will re-examine 3,268 killings between 1969 and the 1998 peace accord.”

    Apologies.

    Indeed Brian. Although this involves a raft of complex issues they are going to have to get right in a short space of time.

    It’ll be interesting to which way the Tories (and David Davis) swing on this one!

  • ggn

    BBC Radio 4 had a good program on it this week, Law in Action …

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/law_in_action/7471359.stm