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Kimberley Carlile

Volume 124: debated on Friday 18 December 1987

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To ask the Attorney-General what action the Director of Public Prosecutions is taking concerning a recommendation of the report of the commission of inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the death of Kimberley Carlile that an inquiry should be set up as to why the prosecution of Mr. Hall and Mrs. Carlile was so long delayed.

Notwithstanding the recommendation in its report, the commission did not itself inquire into the reasons for the delay which it alleged. The Crown prosecution service was not represented at the inquiry; it was given no notice that this matter was in issue, nor was it afforded any opportunity to comment on any of the conclusions or recommendations in the report before it was published.The Director of Public Prosecutions has inquired into the sequence of events, which was as follows. The defendants were charged with murder on 10 June 1986, two days after Kimberley's death. Mrs. Carlile's legal advisers did not agree to a formal committal for trial, but exercised their right to make legal submissions on 15 September 1986 when both defendants were committed for trial to the Central Criminal Court. In November 1986 the court itself fixed 5 May 1987 for the start of the trial. In the meantime, the London borough of Greenwich had begun wardship proceedings, and the question arose whether those proceedings should be heard before or after the trial; Mr. Justice Wood later ruled that they should be heard after the trial. It was plainly desirable that the trial should take place as soon as possible. Accordingly, on 26 January 1987 prosecuting councel instructed by the Crown prosecution service applied to the Common Serjeant to bring the date of trial forward. This application was refused on the grounds that a vital prosecution witness was unavailable to give evidence in parts of March and April and no court could be found for the trial at any other time before 5 May. The trial did begin on 5 May and concluded on 15 May 1987.The director is satisfied that in all the circumstances the Crown prosecution service was in no way to blame for the lapse of time between the charging of the defendants and their trial.