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Murder Cases

Volume 228: debated on Thursday 8 July 1993

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To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if he will ensure that, in murder cases where hon. Members have raised the conviction with members of the Government, transcripts or notes of the trial are retained longer than the five year norm provided that the hon. Member is still seeking a review of the case, regardless of whether it has gone to appeal.

If an hon. Member seeks a review of a murder case, he, or others, may purchase any transcript required within the five-year period. On request, the Department will supply details of the contractor responsible for keeping the particular record.Applications for leave to appeal are required to be lodged within 28 days and reasons to justify any extension of time are required. If there has been an application for leave to appeal, transcript relevant to the grounds of appeal will have been obtained and will be retained indefinitely in appeals against a murder conviction. The Royal Commission on criminal justice made no recommendation to extend the five-year period for the keeping of a verbatim record and I see no case to do so.

To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what arrangements are made for the storage of transcripts or notes of the trials in murder cases which have gone to appeal.

The verbatim record is kept for five years after it was taken, regardless of whether there is an appeal. Transcripts are not automatically produced for cost reasons, but may be purchased if required within the five-year period.If there is an appeal against a murder conviction, any transcripts purchased by the Court of Appeal and the documents provided by the Crown court to the Court of Appeal are retained indefinitely by arrangement with the Public Record Office.

To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if he will make it his policy, in circumstances in which the Home Office has requested from an hon. Member representing the interests of a convicted murderer a statement concerning that case, to provide the hon. Member on request with a transcript of the relevant portions of the trial including the summings up by counsel for the defence, the prosecution and the trial judge.

Verbatim records of murder trials are retained for five years. If a transcript is required by an hon. Member, the Home Office, or another organisation or person, it must be purchased within the five-year period. The contractor responsible for keeping the records will be required to meet any such request. It would not be appropriate for my Department to meet the costs of such transcription.A verbatim record of the evidence and a trial judge's summing up is always taken, but prosecution and defence closing speeches are not matters of evidence or law which a jury are required to have regard to. A record of these may not be available as there is no requirement to record them.