On 17 December the High Court decided that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor could consider an application from Mr. Shields for a free pardon and he immediately appointed senior counsel to advise him. On counsel's advice he asked the Merseyside police to look at certain matters arising on Mr. Shields' application.
My right hon. Friend is determined to make the best and fairest decision that he can, but he can do so only after properly assessing all of the material that is available and his consideration needs to be thorough. Regrettably he does not anticipate that it will be possible to make a decision before the end of May at the earliest.