Plaid Cymru Parliamentary Leader, Elfyn Llwyd MP, will use tomorrow’s (Tuesday) Commons debate on the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill to warn of the dangers of overturning Lords amendments made to the legislation.
Lords amendment 94E corrected the worrying provision that would have made it almost impossible for those who have suffered miscarriages of justice to gain compensation for their time spent in prison.
Mr Llwyd will warn that, if the amendment is overturned, the Bill will place a heavier burden of proof on the individual, as he or she must prove their innocence of a crime – years or even decades after that crime has been committed.
He added that this would result in individuals who have already suffered a wrong at the hands of our justice system then being denied access to compensation to make up for that wrong.
Speaking ahead of the debate, Mr Llwyd said:
“The issue of the miscarriage of justice is among the most worrying aspects of this deeply flawed Bill.
“My colleague Dafydd Wigley was among a majority in the second chamber who argued and voted against this particular flaw but their hard work now faces a threat from a Government vote that would overturn their amendment.
“The process of securing justice for those wronged by the system such as the cases of the Birmingham Six and the Guildford Four should be as swift as possible. Instead, this legislation would place a heavier burden of proof on individuals, requiring them to prove their innocence of a crime.
“In practical terms, it would be virtually impossible for these individuals to prove their innocence since they are, in effect, being asked to prove that they did not commit these acts.
“The presumption of innocence is a long-standing principle of our criminal justice system. The onus should be on the system to find the defendant guilty, not on the defendant to have to prove their innocence.
“I hope that the Government takes heed of the Lords’ rational and robust arguments in favour of preserving this amendment, and I fully intend to vote to do so.”