qualify for compensation it is therefore unnecessary to show that the applicant spent time in custody.
61.This scheme of compensation was based on a written Parliamentary answer given by Mr Roy Jenkins, the then Home Secretary on 29 July 1976115. This statement was elaborated on in a written answer to the House of Commons by the then Home Secretary, Mr Douglas Hurd on 29 November 1985116 and was adopted by the subsequent Labour Government. He said:
“I remain prepared to pay compensation to people …. who have spent a period in custody following a wrongful conviction or charge, where I am satisfied that it has resulted from serious default on the part of a member of a police force or of some other public authority.
“There may be exceptional circumstances that justify compensation in cases outside these categories. In particular, facts may emerge at trial, or on appeal within time, that completely exonerate the accused person. I am prepared, in principle, to pay compensation to people who have spent a period in custody or have been imprisoned in cases such as this.”
Thus, broadly, there were two routes to establishing compensation under the ex gratia scheme. Either the applicant could show that the wrongful conviction or charge resulted from serious default on the part of the police or other public authority or that there were exceptional circumstances that warranted the payment of compensation, commonly, although not necessarily, because he has been completely exonerated of involvement in the offence. The main circumstances in which a claim arose under the ex gratia scheme but which fell outside section 133 CJA were where the applicant had been detained in custody but had been acquitted at or before trial or in consequence of an in time appeal.
HEATHER WILLIAMS QC
29 January 2007
115 HC Deb, 29 July 1976, cols 328 – 330.
116 HC Deb 29 November 1985 cols 691 – 692.