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Andrew Stephenson calls for prosecutions to be able to appeal against judges' decisions to grant bail

By Jonathan Isaby
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Stephenson Andrew Before yesterday's marathon session on the Finance Bill, Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson introduced a ten-minute rule bill inspired by a tragic incident which occurred in his constituency.

Last year his constituent, Jane Clough, was murdered by her ex-partner, who was out on bail for a series of serious charges of crimes against her (including nine counts of rape and four counts of common assault and sexual assault).

A judge had granted him bail despite police and CPS advice that it ought not be granted - and that decision could not be appealed against because as the law stands, the prosecution can only appeal when such a decision is made by a magistrate's court.

So Stephenson proposed that the law be changed to allow the CPS or Attorney General to challenge such a bail verdict in order to change a system which is "unfairly weighted towards the defendant."

He asserted:

"By allowing the prosecution to appeal against bail decisions, we will make sure that judges can be held accountable for the decisions they make. Even the best judge will not get every decision right and surely there should be a safeguard for when a decision is made that clearly looks ill-advised or incomprehensible. Making such a change would also protect the rights and freedoms of victims of crime and their families."

"Jane became a prisoner in her own home. It strikes me as totally unacceptable that Jonathan Vass was allowed to roam free, while Jane lived under the constant shadow of her tormentor and rapist. I have received support from across the House from more than 50 MPs who want to see this issue addressed. We must ensure that victims of crime are protected from further punishment."

A cross-party group of MPs are backing the bill, which was sent to its next stage with out a division, but it is highly unlikely to proceed any further unless the Government backs it.


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