QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
THE ADMINISTRATIVE COURT
B e f o r e :
|THE QUEEN ON THE APPLICATION OF WILLIAM MURRAY||(CLAIMANT)|
|(1) THE PAROLE BOARD|
|(2) THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT||(DEFENDANT)|
Smith Bernal Wordwave Limited
190 Fleet Street London EC4A 2AG
Tel No: 020 7404 1400 Fax No: 020 7831 8838
(Official Shorthand Writers to the Court)
MR P PATEL (instructed by the Treasury Solicitor) appeared on behalf of the DEFENDANT
Crown Copyright ©
"In view of Mr Murray's previous failures in the community, it is felt appropriate that he is tested in open conditions, preferably in the Bristol area, in order to establish regular resettlement leaves at an approved hostel. Assuming that he makes the adjustment well, a review in 2 years after transfer, should allow for the preparation of a sound release plan, and for Mr Murray to benefit from further work in the area of relationship skills. The panel are of the view that any risk to the public is suitably low for a move to open conditions."
"Everyone who is deprived of his liberty by arrest or detention shall be entitled to take proceedings by which the lawfulness of his detention shall be decided speedily by a court and his release ordered if the detention is not lawful."
"The court has found .... that the tariff comprises the punishment element of the mandatory life sentence. The Secretary of State's role in fixing the tariff is a sentencing exercise, not the administrative implementation of the sentence of the court as can be seen in cases of early or conditional release from a determinate term of imprisonment. After the expiry of the tariff, continued detention depends on elements of dangerousness and risk associated with the objectives of the original sentence [for] murder. These elements may change with the course of time, and thus new issues of lawfulness arise requiring determination by a body satisfying the requirements of Article 5 § 4. It can no longer be maintained that the original trial and appeal proceedings satisfied, once and for all, issues of compatibility of subsequent detention of mandatory life prisoners with the provisions of Article 5 § 1 of the Convention."
"... As an interim measure, the Home Secretary has decided to change the administrative arrangements for the review and release of mandatory life sentence prisoners. These administrative arrangements will apply to all such prisoners whose next Parole Board review begins on or after 1 January 2003. The changes will mean that in most instances these prisoners' cases will be heard initially, as now, by the Parole Board on the papers which will make a provisional recommendation. If prisoners wish to make representations about provisional recommendations it will then be open to them to request an oral hearing before the Parole Board at which they may have legal representation. They will normally receive full disclosure of all material relevant to the question of whether they should be released. They will also be able to examine and cross-examine witnesses. Similarly the Secretary of State may also require an oral hearing of the Board in cases where he believes further examination of the evidence is required.
If, at the end of the review process, the Parole Board favours the release of a mandatory life sentence prisoner once the minimum period has been served the Home Secretary will normally accept such a recommendation .... "
"(1) The review begins at the start of week zero when a complete dossier is disclosed to the prisoner (21 May 2003). The prisoner then has twenty-eight days in which to make his representations (18 June 2003).
(2) Between weeks four and seven, the complete dossier is sent to and considered by the Parole Board. By the start of week 7 (9 July 2003), the prisoner and his legal representatives are informed of the result of the Parole Board's decision on the papers.
(3) From receipt of the decision of the Parole Board on the papers, the prisoner has twenty-eight days, until the beginning of week eleven, in which to apply for a further review by way of oral hearing (6 August 2003). It was decided that this was the appropriate period after a cross section of prisoners' legal representatives were consulted about the proposed timetable in October 2002 (and specifically asked about this point). The legal representatives expressed the view that they would generally need a period of twenty-eight days to allow sufficient time, after a paper decision, to complete preliminary work, including arranging visits with and advising their clients.
(4) By the beginning of week thirteen directions are given for the management of the oral hearing review. The hearing itself takes place not more than five weeks later (24 September 2003) and the prisoner and representatives are notified of the decision not more than one week thereafter (1 October 2003). The reason for the five week period between the giving of directions and the hearing derives from the Parole Board's past experience of dealing with oral hearings. In giving directions, the Panel chair may have granted requests for the appearance of witnesses or the production and submission of further evidence, including reports. In order to allow time for these matters to be dealt with, a five week period was thought appropriate without being unduly long. In setting this period and in devising the interim arrangements generally, the Secretary of State and the Parole Board have balanced the prisoner's interest in a speedy hearing against the need to ensure that all relevant material is before each Panel. Due regard has also been paid to the consideration that a foreshortened period of preparation may lead to a failure to complete the necessary steps, adjournment of the hearing and potential delays before it can be re-listed."
"I would think that he would still require to do work on impulsivity and decision making, and also to undertake a course on Relationship Skills. However, these could be undertaken appropriately in open conditions. Should, however, concerns arise over the health of his daughter again or indeed her welfare, he may be tempted to 'sort it out' his own way. Nevertheless, he is determined at present to maintain access through appropriate legal channels."
It is this tendency to impulsiveness which the Secretary of State regards as important to a consideration whether the claimant still poses a risk to life or limb. These are echoes of circumstances in which (many years ago, it has to be said) he became involved in the original offence. The claimant, however, believes that it is almost certain that the next recommendation of the Parole Board will be for release. Accordingly, any period he remains in custody will be spent while he does not satisfy the Stafford criterion of risk.