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Discontinued Trials

Volume 407: debated on Thursday 19 June 2003

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To ask the Solicitor-General if she will examine the causes behind the decision to discontinue the trials of Adrian Pasareanu, Lulezim Balliu, Alin Turcu and their two co-defendants; and if she will make a statement. [117815]

The Code for Crown Prosecutors makes clear that no prosecution may be commenced unless it is believed that there is a realistic prospect of a conviction, that is that it is more likely than not that there will be a conviction. However, once a prosecution has begun, it is the duty of the prosecution to keep the prospect of conviction under constant review. If there comes a time when it is believed that there is no longer a realistic prospect of conviction, it is the duty of the prosecution to say so and to take steps accordingly.The Crown Prosecution Service, undertaking that process of constant review, recently received information which meant that it could no longer put forward the principal prosecution witness, Florim Gashi, as a witness of truth.In May 2003 the section of the CPS dealing with the kidnap received information showing that Mr. Gashi may have entrapped a Wandsworth parking attendant into criminal behaviour. The attendant also made allegations against Mr. Gashi that he had access to guns, an allegation that had also been made by one of the defendants in this case. Further, it was apparent that Mr. Gashi had lied to the police.This information prompted a re-review of the whole case.

The Crown Prosecution Service was not told until three months after the arrests that Mr. Gashi had been paid for his information. Mr. Gashi had previously denied receiving more than expenses. It was only on 13 May 2003 that a News of the World employee disclosed that a cheque for £10,000 had been issued by the News of the World on 1 November 2002.

In the light of these developments the CPS requested advice of experienced senior counsel, who advised that there was no longer a realistic prospect of a conviction. As a result the CPS took the decision not to proceed with the case.

To ask the Solicitor-General if she will estimate the cost, to the public purse, of the abortive trials of Adrian Pasareanu, Lulezim Balliu, Alin Turcu and their co-defendants. [117816]

It is estimated that the prosecution costs in this case will be in the region of £70,000.This figure does not include staff or running costs, which are attributable to the operation of the Crown Prosecution Service as a whole and cannot be assessed on an individual basis.