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Anthony Leon Peart

Volume 475: debated on Monday 28 April 2008

On 22 November, my right hon. Friend the Minister for Security, Counter-Terrorism, Crime and Policing, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Justice, my right hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Garstang (Maria Eagle) and I invited HM chief inspector of the Crown Prosecution Service, HM chief inspector of constabulary, HM chief inspector of courts administration and HM chief inspector of prisons jointly to undertake a review into the circumstances which led to Anthony Leon Peart being at liberty on 29 July 2005, when Richard Whelan was fatally stabbed by him.

Richard Whelan was unlawfully killed on the day that Peart had been released from Forest Bank prison—a privately run prison—in Pendlebury, Greater Manchester. At the time of his release there was a warrant outstanding from Liverpool Crown court for his immediate arrest.

I have today placed a copy of the report of the review in the Library of both Houses and published it on the Attorney-General’s office website.

The Government very much regret the death of Richard Whelan and thank the chief inspectors for their work, and we are determined to learn lessons from this.

The report makes clear there was nothing in this individual’s offending history that would have suggested him to be capable of the extreme, spontaneous violence that took place on 29 July 2005 and which resulted in the death of Richard Whelan. However, the report makes clear that agencies in the criminal justice system must work together more closely to address the more general issues identified in the review, including the management of accused persons whilst on bail.

The report makes a number of detailed recommendations, most of which the Government are able to accept immediately. The CPS—Crown Prosecution Service—has revised its legal guidance to prosecutors on post-conviction bail, as recommended. The Government are reviewing bail and murder and will issue a consultation paper shortly. A cross-agency working group has been convened and will be responsible for taking forward the detailed work, and a further statement on progress will be made in due course.