Francis Bennion portrait

Home

Human Rights

Law

Politics & Government

Professionalism

Sexual Ethics

Religion & Belief

Poetry Fiction Drama Other

About FB

Google

www this site

SITEMAP

 

ABOUT FB

. . CV

. . Autobiographical

. . Life photos

. . FB's Scrapbook

 

WRITINGS BY FB

. . Chronological

. . Complete list

. . The Bennion Code

. . FB books

. . FB articles etc.

. . FB press letters

. . Book reviews

. . Blogs

. . Archive

. . Acts mentioned

. . People mentioned

 

WRITINGS BY OTHERS

. . Chronological

. . Index

. . Press cuttings

. . Reviews-FB books

. .

OTHER MATERIAL

. . Photograph Album

. . Document list

. . Audio and video

 

Abbreviations

 

 

Note:Francis Bennion sadly died on 28 January 2015.

Contact Webmaster

 

Copyright

Disclaimer

 

Acrobat reader

Letter in Justice of the Peace

 

Prime Minister Decides Prosecution Policy On Knives

 

172 JPN (21 June 2008) 402

Doc. No. 2008.019 JPN015L

 

Introductory Note by Francis Bennion


The following letter is followed by a response from the Editor, Adrian Turner.

 

CORRESPONDENCE

 

The Editor,

Justice of the Peace.

 

Sir,

 

A recent editorial (p. 377 ante) was right to chastise the Prime Minister Mr Gordon Brown for himself apparently deciding a point of prosecution policy, namely that youths of 16 and 17 will in future be prosecuted, rather than merely cautioned, for possession of knives. However the editorial was mistaken in suggesting that for a Prime Minister to intervene in this way is a ‘first’ and unprecedented.

 

In 2006, in these columns, I recounted for the umpteenth time the story of the Campbell Case that in 1924 brought down the first Labour government (see [2006] 170 JPN 847, [LINK] www.francisbennion.com/2006/039.htm). It happened because the Prime Minister of the day, Ramsey Macdonald, intervened in the arena of prosecutorial discretion by procuring abandonment of the prosecution of the editor of a left-wing newspaper. There was a massive row, and the Government resigned after losing a confidence vote.

 

Before this the official view had been that prosecution policy, at least in important political cases, was to be determined by the government of the day and not the prosecuting authorities – who had at most a right to be consulted. This was reflected in the fact that the Home Secretary had a statutory power to order the Director of Public Prosecutions to prosecute in a particular matter. The Campbell Case led to a change in favour of the independence of the prosecutors under the supervision of the Attorney General. This has led me to say in various places that the Attorney General now holds the prosecutorial power as an independent constitutional function.

 

It seems Mr Gordon Brown has not been told of the Campbell Case or the prosecutorial independence that now prevails (or is supposed to). Unhappily this ignorance applies widely, despite my own small efforts over many years to make the true position known.

 

Francis Bennion

 

The Editor responds:

 

I am grateful, as ever, to Francis Bennion for this lesson in history. Clearly, I should have inserted the words ‘in modern constitutional times’ in my editorial. I suspect, however, that my discomfort is small compared to Mr Brown’s on finding himself compared to Ramsay MacDonald.