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Crime: Rape

Volume 688: debated on Wednesday 24 January 2007

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they have assessed the appropriateness of the appointment of Mr D Farrell QC as representing both the Crown in the Warren Blackwell appeal hearing and the Crown in the original trial of Warren Blackwell; and whether this is normal practice. [HL1216]

It is normal practice to brief counsel who conducted the original trial to represent the Crown at any subsequent appeal hearing, unless it is clear from the grounds of appeal that the conduct of prosecution counsel was an issue. In this case the appeal was on two grounds: the first, based on new evidence about the complainant, which was conceded by the Crown; the second, based on non-disclosure by the Crown, which was not conceded by the Crown, and was not considered by the court.

In view of the fact that counsel's judgment was in question and that this could have led to a conflict of interest, he should not have continued to be instructed on the appeal and new counsel should have been appointed by the Crown for the appeal. CPS guidance on the appointment of counsel in appeals referred by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) to the Court of Appeal has been issued.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether disciplinary action is to be taken in the case of prosecutors in the Warren Blackwell trial and appeal for failure to disclose evidence of importance to the case for the defence. [HL1217]

The case was properly reviewed by the Crown prosecutor, who sought and obtained advice regarding disclosure from senior counsel conducting the trial. There are no grounds for disciplinary action against any individual. The Court of Appeal judgment has been brought to the attention of all Crown prosecutors.