Inside Parliament: Peers in `Battle of Verbals' over Criminal Justice Bill

By Goodwin, Stephen | The Independent (London, England), July 8, 1994 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Inside Parliament: Peers in `Battle of Verbals' over Criminal Justice Bill


Goodwin, Stephen, The Independent (London, England)


Aconcession by the Government yesterday over ending a suspect's right of silence failed to satisfy lawyer peers opposed to the change, with one lord warning of a resumption of the "battle of the verbals" in courts.

Lord Wigoder, a former Crown Court recorder, foresaw counsel, police officers and defendants disputing "on and on" over who said what or stayed silent, whether the defendent had been properly cautioned and who was lying.

But though the Liberal Democrat peer and other senior figures remain unhappy, the Government appears to have bought off serious trouble on the issue with a further change to the Criminal Justice and Public Order Bill. A caution must have been given by the police before a suspect's silence could count against him.

Whether a climb-down or simply an admission by Michael Howard, the Home Secretary, that the Bill was not properly thought through in the first place, the amendment was carried unopposed as the Report Stage continued in the Upper House. However, heavy government whipping ensured that a move to give a suspect the right to consult a lawyer and have interrogations tape-recorded before any inference could be drawn from his silence was seen off by 143 votes to 91.

Lord Ackner, a former Lord of Appeal, said the unsuccessful amendment represented "the minimum safeguards if we are to maintain the standard of fairness which is an essential part of our administration of justice". He was supported by the Conservative Lord Alexander of Weedon, chairman of Justice, Lord Wigoder, Labour frontbencher Lord Irvine of Lairg and - by letter - Viscount Runciman of Doxford, chairman of the Royal Commission on Criminal Justice which advised against ending the right of silence.

Lined up against them - to the relief of Earl Ferrers, Minister of State at the Home Office - were Lord Taylor of Gosforth, the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Rawlinson of Ewell, a former Conservative Attorney General, and Lord Hailsham. The former Tory Lord Chancellor said there should be "as few technicalities or ritual dances" as possible.

Earl Ferrers caused a ripple of consternation when he told peers he saw "no reason why silence should not be treated in the same way as a confession" subject to the safeguards proposed by the Government.

The caution will include the existing reminder that the suspect is not obliged to say anything and that anything said may count in evidence, plus a warning of the dangers of remaining silent.

As a further safeguard, Earl Ferrers said a new procedure would be introduced at police stations. Before conducting a formal interview, the officer would ask the suspect whether he wished to confirm, deny or modify any earlier exchanges or silences.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Inside Parliament: Peers in `Battle of Verbals' over Criminal Justice Bill
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?