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Verbal Testimony

Volume 448: debated on Tuesday 11 July 2006

I have met a good many Court of Appeal judges in my time, two of them very recently, but I have not met any to discuss verbal testimony, and I have no plans to do so in the immediate future.

Every day many prisoners who witnessed serious crimes are interviewed by the police in prisons up and down the country. I am immensely concerned about the integrity and transparency of the procedure, as many of those prisoners subsequently claim compensation. Having discussed the matter with many senior members of the judiciary, I share their view that such interviews should be video-recorded. Does my hon. and learned Friend agree?

Matters relating to the way in which police procedures are carried out are for the Home Office, and of course my hon. Friend’s suggestion has resource implications. However, when it comes to the hearing of such evidence in court, I can only agree with her, and with the senior members of the judiciary to whom she has spoken, that taped or even video-recorded interviews with witnesses in serious cases who are vulnerable or whose evidence is likely to be strongly contested would provide better protection for all parties.