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Plenary Minutes 2006

MINUTES OF THE PLENARY MEETING OF THE SENTENCE REVIEW COMMISSIONERS HELD IN 2006

MINUTES OF THE PLENARY MEETING OF THE SENTENCE REVIEW COMMISSIONERS HELD ON THURSDAY 30 MARCH 2006

Commissioners:

Sir John Blelloch

Mr Brian Currin

Dr Silvia Casale

Dr Adrian Grounds

Dr Peter Curran

Mr Donal McFerran

Mr Ian Dunbar

Dr Duncan Morrow

Mrs Mary Gilpin

Apologies:

Ms Clodach McGrory

Secretariat:

Mr Brian McCready

Mrs Sheena McKittrick

•  The minutes of the previous meeting were agreed.

•  Commissioners heard that reports had not yet been received on the deaths of two previous applicants and agreed that this matter should be brought forward until such times as the details were known.

•  The Joint Chairmen had scheduled a meeting with the new PUS of the NIO and offered to take up any issues that Commissioners wanted raised with him. The future of the SRC would be one such issue.

•  Commissioners agreed that the proposed amendments to the Special Advocate's appointment letter adequately reflected the agreed changes to the “damaging information” process coming out of the McClean judgement and agreed that a copy of the revised letter and/ or guidance note issued to the Special Advocate should be obtained.

•  The Secretary told Commissioners that the first draft of this year's Annual Report was almost completed and would be circulated for comment soon, with publication scheduled for July as normal. He also advised that the Secretariat had recently been audited and that the draft report was expected soon. However, indications were that there would be no adverse comments.

•  Commissioners noted that if devolution were restored the LSRC would be devolved to the local assembly, but because the work of SRC is an excepted matter within the provisions of the NI Act 1998, the SRC would remain with central government. There was some discussion about the implication for the shared administration with LSRC but all agreed that it was unlikely that the work of the SRC could be subsumed by the LSRC in future as had been previously suggested. The Secretary undertook to keep Commissioners informed on any developments in this area.

•  It was agreed that quarterly plenary meetings were probably no longer necessary. Nevertheless the June plenary would be held as usual. Unless something unexpected transpired there would not be a plenary in September. The June meeting would be followed by a plenary in December. In light of this the dates of the next meetings were set as Friday 16 June and Wednesday 13 December 2006 at 11.00am.

30 March 2006

MINUTES OF THE PLENARY MEETING OF THE SENTENCE REVIEW COMMISSIONERS HELD ON FRIDAY 16 JUNE 2006

Commissioners:

Sir John Blelloch Mr Brian Currin

Dr Adrian Grounds

Dr Silvia Casale

Mr Donal McFerran

Dr Peter Curran

Mr Ian Dunbar

Ms Clodach McGrory

Mrs Mary Gilpin

   

Apologies:

Dr Duncan Morrow

   

Secretariat:

Mrs Sheena McKittrick

•  The minutes of the previous meeting were agreed subject to one amendment.

•  The Joint Chairmen had met with the PUS of the NIO who had agreed that the SRC function had to continue and that the position should be reviewed before the expiry of the Commissioners' current contracts in 2007.

•  Commissioners heard an update on the current caseload and were informed that in a recent judicial review of one of their decisions the judge had found in their favour. As yet there was no indication that the applicant would appeal against the judgment.

•  Commissioners were reminded that when the Northern Ireland (Sentences) Act had come into force in 1998, prisoners in Northern Ireland were not subject to tariffs set by the Courts. This changed with the advent of the Life Sentences (Northern Ireland) Order 2001 and Commissioners heard that the applicants in two recently concluded cases were actually subject to tariffs. The Commissioners agreed that the Act should be amended to take account of this change. It was reported that Mr Currin had already directed the Secretariat to write to the authorities suggesting an appropriate amendment to the Act.

•  Commissioners discussed whether a prisoner having a tariff set under the Life Sentences Order precluded him/her making a further application under the Sentences Act. Ms McGrory undertook to look at the legislation and report her findings.

•  Commissioners heard that the LSRC had taken the decision to record oral hearings and all agreed that it would be wise for the SRC to do likewise particularly since the resource could be shared at no additional cost.

•  The date of the next meeting was confirmed as 13 December 2006 at 11.00am.

21 June 2006

MINUTES OF THE PLENARY MEETING OF THE SENTENCE REVIEW COMMISSIONERS HELD ON WEDNESDAY 13 DECEMBER 2006

 

Commissioners: Sir John Blelloch Mr Brian Currin
Dr Adrian Grounds Dr Silvia Casale
Mr Donal McFerran Dr Peter Curran
Mr Ian Dunbar Ms Clodach McGrory
Dr Duncan Morrow
Apologies: Mrs Mary Gilpin
     
Secretariat: Mr Brian McCready Mrs Moya Cushley
Mrs Deirdre McMahon
  1. The minutes of the previous meeting were agreed subject to one minor amendment.
  2. Commissioners heard an update on the current caseload and were informed that in a recent judicial review in which the judge had found in their favour , the applicant had appealed against the judgment and was awaiting listing in the Court of Appeal in the New Year.
  3. In light of a recent ancillary appeal, Commissioners agreed that all further applications received under Section 9 of the Act should be accepted. A new application form should be devised for such applications, inviting the applicant to supply sufficient and relevant information. A decision on the validity of such applications could then be decided once the Secretary of State's response had been received.
  4. Commissioners were told that the change to the Northern Ireland (Sentences) Act 1998 necessitated by the advent of the Life Sentences (Northern Ireland) Order 2001 and tariff setting had been taken on by the Criminal Justice Division of the NIO. However, owing to more pressing legislative commitments it would be some time before the necessary work could be done. I n the meantime Commissioners would continue to apply the legislation as it stands.
  5. On the assumption that having a tariff set under the Life Sentences Order did not preclude a prisoner making a further application under the Sentences Act, Commissioners felt it would be useful to set up a meeting with the Life Sentence Review Commissioners to discuss the basis on which they might deal with a case that was referred simultaneously for consideration by SRC/LSRC.
  6. The date of the next meeting was confirmed as Thursday 15 March 2007 at 11.00am.

14 December 2006