Clause 349 - Statements

Part of Proceeds of Crime Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 5:45 pm ar 29 Ionawr 2002.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Bob Ainsworth Bob Ainsworth The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department 5:45, 29 Ionawr 2002

Without detracting from the hon. Gentleman's points, I shall try to shorten my reply.

There is nothing sinister about subsection (2)(d). It will allow for the use of a statement in criminal proceedings if a person makes an statement inconsistent with it while giving evidence in other proceedings. However, subsection (3) also provides that that provision should apply only if the person has raised the issue himself. It will therefore apply when a person or his representative makes a statement or asks a question about something in relation to which he has previously said something else in response to a disclosure order.

If a person wants to avoid the information that he gave in relation to the disclosure order being raised, he simply has not to raise it himself. If he does raise it and says something completely different from what he said in response to the disclosure order, it is right that the prosecution should be able to mention the disclosure order. It is, of course, a matter for the court to form a view on the credibility of a witness if he has made two inconsistent statements, even though one was obtained under compulsion.

Furthermore, the prosecutor in such proceedings could not bring his case on the basis of the statement. He could adduce the statement as evidence only if the person made an inconsistent statement during evidence. The statement would therefore not be the principal evidence on which the person was incriminated.

The amendment would prevent the use of information gained under a disclosure order in other criminal proceedings when there is inconsistency. It would mean that a defendant could make statements to the director about the proceeds of crime in the full knowledge that whatever he said in those proceedings could not be used against him if he made contrary statements in other proceedings. I do not think that that can be right, and I am surprised that the Opposition want to provide what I see as a substantial loophole.

I reiterate that if a statement made under compulsion in response to a disclosure order were to be used in another trial, it would be open to the defence to make whatever submissions it deemed appropriate to the court, and the court would have to consider that aspect as part of their other deliberations.