Plenary Minutes 2004
Four meetings during the year listed below
MINUTES OF THE PLENARY MEETING OF THE SENTENCE REVIEW COMMISSIONERS HELD ON 12 MARCH 2004
Commissioners: Sir John Blelloch; Mr Brian Currin; Dr Peter Curran; Mr Ian Dunbar; Mr Donal McFerran; Dr Duncan Morrow; Ms Clodach McGrory; Dr Silvia Casale; Dr Adrian Grounds;
Apologies: Mrs Mary Gilpin
Secretariat: Mr Brian McCready; Mrs Sheena McKittrick
- The minutes of the meeting on 12 March 2004 were approved, including amendments agreed in discussion.
- To enable Commissioners to maintain a current knowledge of developments in HR jurisprudence , Ms McGrory would regularly analyse new HR judgements relevant to the work of the SRC and these will be circulated amongst the Commissioners.
- The document produced by Sir John, Dr Casale and Mr Dunbar on the methodology employed by panels in dealing with information certified as “damaging” should now be amalgamated with Dr Casale's earlier paper and the resulting document would become a checklist for future panels.
- As an SRC case featuring important procedural and evidential issues was currently being considered by the Court of Appeal, the Secretariat had not issued an invitation to a QC from the Immigration Appeals Committee to advise Commissioners on the Committee's handling of special advocate procedures and “damaging” information. However, if the Appeal judgement has not been made by the time of the next plenary, the item will be put on the agenda again.
- Because the Commissioners are accountable for their funding, it was agreed that the Secretariat should write to the Commissioners' legal representatives to remind them that all invoices were required to show a detailed breakdown of the fee.
- A revised draft of the Commissioners' Annual Report 2003-04 would be circulated for approval and the Joint Chairmen would agree the text of their opening letter for inclusion in the report. The final draft should be agreed by the beginning of May to ensure publication in mid-July as usual.
- Commissioners heard that all current cases had recently picked up speed and were all now heading for oral hearing.
- It was agreed that the Single Commissioner dealing with a case should not then be appointed Chairman of the Panel, as this would lead to a conflict of interest if an ancillary appeal had to be considered.
- The date of the next meeting was confirmed as Friday 18 June at 11.00am.
18 March 2004
MINUTES OF THE PLENARY MEETING OF THE SENTENCE REVIEW COMMISSIONERS HELD ON 18 JUNE 2004
Commissioners: Sir John Blelloch; Mr Brian Currin; Mr Ian Dunbar ; Mr Donal McFerran; Dr Duncan Morrow; Ms Clodach McGrory; Dr Silvia Casale;Dr Adrian Grounds.
Apologies: Dr Peter Curran
Secretariat: Mrs Sheena McKittrick
- The minutes of the meeting of 12 March 2004 were agreed.
- The Commissioners were informed that their Annual Report was currently with the publishers and would be laid before Parliament on 16 July 2004.
- The finalised checklist for the Commissioners' procedures for dealing with “damaging” information had been produced and circulated. As the Court of Appeal had commended these procedures in the SRC case considered by them, the invitation to a QC from the Immigration Appeals Committee had not been pursued.
- As the Court of Appeal had upheld the appellant's appeal in the aforementioned case with regard to the onus of proof, the Commissioners had applied for and been granted Leave to Appeal to the House of Lords against the ruling. The Commissioners' legal representatives would be asked to provide the Commissioners with a draft of the skeleton argument to be submitted to the Lords before the next plenary. If Commissioners felt it necessary, Counsel should also attend the meeting and should be put on notice of this.
- Commissioners heard that one new application had been received for the review of the suspension of a life licence. As Commissioners have a statutory duty to consider these cases, it was agreed that such reviews were not dependent on an application. The Commissioners policy is that when the Secretary of State notifies the Commissioners of a suspension, the prisoner should be told his case will be considered and that a request to defer should be made by way of ancillary application.
- As the outcome of the House of Lords decision could have an impact on this case, it was agreed that when the case is ready for consideration by a panel that the prisoner's legal representatives should be asked if they want to proceed or await the Lords' decision.
- The Commissioners once again reviewed their caseload. It was resolved that Mr Currin and Sir John will, once again, seek a meeting with the PUS (Parliamentary Under Secretary) at the end of the year to discuss the future of the SRC.
The dates of next meetings were confirmed as Thursday 16 September 2004 and Wednesday 1 December 2004.
23 June 2004
MINUTES OF THE PLENARY MEETING OF THE SENTENCE REVIEW COMMISSIONERS HELD ON THURSDAY 16 SEPTEMBER 2004
Sir John Blelloch
Mr Ian Dunbar
Dr Adrian Grounds
Mr Donal McFerran
Mr Brian Currin
Ms Clodach McGrory
Dr Duncan Morrow
Dr Peter Curran
Dr Silvia Casale
Mr Brian McCready
Mrs Sheena McKittrick
- The minutes of the meeting of 18 June 2004 were agreed following one minor amendment.
- It was agreed that the Joint Chairmen should meet with the PUS (Parliamentary Under Secretary) before the next plenary meeting to discuss the future of the SRC. Both Joint Chairmen and all Commissioners present indicated that they would be happy to continue but agreed that the position should be subject to review annually.
- Commissioners heard details of the current caseload and were advised that there had been one new application received and two oral hearings were scheduled to take place in the coming week.
- Commissioners heard an update from their legal representatives on their appeal to the House of Lords for clarification on where the onus of proof on the question of danger lies in revocation cases considered under Section 8 of the Sentences Act. The appeal is unlikely to be heard before Easter next year. In the meantime, Commissioners agreed that in correspondence with the legal representatives of prisoners in recall and revocation cases, they should mention that the appeal was in process; and that while it might not have a direct bearing on the particular case in which they were involved, it could be highly influential. Under these circumstances, they should ask the representatives whether they wanted to proceed to hearing or await the outcome from the House of Lords.
- Commissioners clarified their policy on ancillary applications for the attendance of Counsel at oral hearing. Applications should continue to be considered on their own merit and if good reason was shown why Senior Counsel was necessary instead of Junior Counsel, then the application should be granted. However, payment would only be at the rates shown on the Commissioners' Legal Aid guidance notes. It was also agreed that applications for payment for dual representation should be refused.
The date and time of the next plenary meeting was confirmed as Wednesday 1 December at 11.00am.
20 September 2004
MINUTES OF THE PLENARY MEETING OF THE SENTENCE REVIEW COMMISSIONERS HELD ON WEDNESDAY 1 DECEMBER 2004
Commissioners: Sir John Blelloch; Mr Brian Currin; Mr Ian Dunbar; Ms Clodach McGrory; Dr Adrian Grounds; Dr Duncan Morrow; Mr Donal McFerran; Dr Silvia Casale; Dr Peter Curran.
Apologies: Mrs Mary Gilpin
Secretariat: Mr Brian McCready; Mrs Deirdre McMahon.
- Commissioners heard an update on their appeal to the House of Lords, and of the request from the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission for approval to intervene. The Commissioners understood why the HRC wished to be involved in the appeal proceedings and were therefore content to approve the intervention on their behalf.
- A revised Statement of Facts and Issues was produced that now included matters that were noted as not having been agreed between the parties. Given their understanding of the process, Commissioners were uncertain as to how the revised Statement could now go forward. They were advised that the Judicial Office would have the final say. If they asked that it be changed to reflect agreement, the Statement would eventually emerge as a bland note of the basic facts. In the meantime, Commissioners suggested a few minor amendments to be cleared with Mr John Larkin QC, and included in a revised statement which would then be signed off by Mr Larkin and Mr Treacy QC and lodged with the Judicial Office by 8 December 2004.
- As to the timetable for hearing, the Commissioners were advised that it had been set down for 16 May for 4 days. Assuming the Statement of Facts and Issues was cleared, Mr Larkin hoped to have the Prepared Case ready in draft for consideration by SRC before the end of February. With that in mind, Commissioners arranged the next Plenary for 3 March 2005 at 2.30pm, dealing with other business first and meeting Mr Larkin later in the afternoon for discussion on the Prepared Case.
- The minutes of the meeting of 16 September 2004 were agreed.
- Commissioners heard details of the current caseload and were advised that an appeal was expected against an ancillary decision in one case, which would then be subject to an appeal hearing by the Panel
- Commissioners agreed that it was now necessary to review the guidance note regarding legal aid and a review of fees for counsel at oral hearings.
- A report was heard from the joint Chairmen on their meeting with PUS (Parliamentary Under Secretary).
2 December 2004