Litigation Recent Decisions 06/08/96

Non-disclosure of police reports in appeal healing

R v Secretary Of State for the Home Department, ex parte Paul Alexander Cleeland (1996).

DC (Auld LJ and Ebsworth J) 25/7/96.

Summary: Disclosure of all the evidential material upon which reports on the police conduct of a murder investigation were based held to be sufficient to enable the person convicted to present his case for a reference under s.17 Criminal Appeal Act 1968 without the necessity for disclosing the reports themselves.

Application for judicial review, by a prisoner serving a life sentence in respect of his murder conviction, after re-trial on 25/6/73, of the refusal of the Home Secretary to disclose two reports following his complaints about the police investigation of his case. These reports were the Boothby Report and the Humphris Report. The Boothby Report was made by Chief Constable Boothby, who had been appointed by the Chief Constable of Hertfordshire to investigate the complaints under s.49 Police Act 1964 now replaced by Part IX Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. His findings were that there had been errors in the police and prison records, none of them wilful. In December 1993, the applicant informed Hertfordshire Police that Ian Graham and Robert Wilson had admitted that they killed Mr Clarke, the victim of the murder. As a result the Deputy Chief Constable commissioned Superintendent Barnard Humphris of the Metropolitan Police Complaints Bureau to investigate and report to the Crown Prosecution Service on the alleged confessions. While this investigation was still proceeding, the applicant submitted his second petition to the Home Secretary to refer his conviction to the Court of Appeal suggesting the existence and concealment of the transcripts of evidence at his retrial and challenging the reliability of the police evidence given at his trials.

On 28/11/94 the Divisional Court in R v Hickey (No.2) (1995) 1 WLR 734 ruled that the Secretary of State's duty of fairness in exercising his powers under s.17 requires him to disclose to the prisoner such material as will enable him to make informed representations on the question.

On 11/5/95, in purported compliance with that decision,, the Home Office sent the applicant's solicitor all relevant statements and documents obtained by Boothby and Humphris in their respective inquiries, but not their reports about them.