POLITICS
17/01/2012 01:52 GMT

Bail Can Be Appealed Under Proposed Law Change

Prosecutors will be able to appeal against crown court decisions to release suspected serious offenders on bail under a proposed change in the law.

The move follows a campaign by the parents of nurse Jane Clough, who was stabbed to death by her ex-partner while he was on bail accused of raping her.

David Cameron, who announced the move in the Commons last week, said he hoped the change "will improve the law, be more helpful to victims and give some satisfaction to the family".

Ambulance technician Jonathan Vass murdered Ms Clough, a 26-year-old mother-of-one, in the car park of Blackpool Victoria Hospital while he was on bail over charges that he raped her.

Following his jailing for a minimum of 30 years in October 2010, her parents, John and Penny, of Barrowford, Lancashire, launched the Justice for Jane campaign which aimed to make an amendment to the existing Bail Bill to allow prosecutors to appeal against a judge's decision to grant bail.

They were also outraged that the rape allegations against former bouncer Vass were allowed to lie on file.

The amendment to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill will enable prosecutors to appeal to a High Court judge.

Justice minister Crispin Blunt said: "As a matter of course, defendants who have committed violent crimes and pose a danger to the public are always remanded in custody while they are awaiting trial.

"But we know that there have been occasions when offenders have been bailed and have gone on to commit more, and sometimes very serious, crimes.

"These changes will provide a vital safeguard for the public by allowing prosecutors to challenge crown court bail decisions when they fear a potentially dangerous defendant may be being bailed."

The new power was welcomed last October by the Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer.

While it may not be used very often, he said, "where it was felt that a judge had got a decision on bail wrong, and the interests of victims and the wider public demanded that such a decision be challenged, then this would be regarded as a useful and appropriate option for the prosecution to have available to it".