Note on draft Constitutional Renewal Bill for OECD

by Dinah Rose QC, Ben Jaffey, Richard Stein and Jamie Beagent

first published 31 March 2008

On 25 March 2008, the UK Government announced a draft Constitutional Renewal Bill, concerning the relationship between independent prosecutors and the Attorney General, who is appointed by the Prime Minister as the Government's chief legal adviser, is responsible for all criminal prosecutions brought by the state, and is a member of the Government.

This draft Bill propose to create a new power for the Attorney General to stop a criminal investigation or prosecution on the grounds of 'national security' and to limit significantly the abilities of Parliament and the judiciary to scrutinise such a decision.

Sensitive criminal prosecutions could be halted, or appear to be halted, for political reasons without explanation or accountability to Parliament, the Courts or international bodies. 'National security' could simply be invoked, without transparency or accountability, by a politician, the Attorney General, to stop any investigation or prosecution perceived as undesirable.

This 'Note' from The Corner House's barristers and solicitors examines the Bill's implications.


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