Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepgaelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: UK Politics
Front Page 
World 
UK 
UK Politics 
Talking Politics 
Diary 
People in Parliament 
A-Z of Parliament 
Political Links 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Sport 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 
Thursday, 25 November, 1999, 17:57 GMT
Witness payments face ban
The Gary Glitter case raised the issue once more

Media payments to witnesses in criminal cases are to be outlawed, the Lord Chancellor, Lord Irvine, has promised.

The government will take the step as soon as it can find sufficient parliamentary time, he said.

Although a commitment had been made on such a move last year, Lord Irvine said he had been particularly concerned over the recent trial of Gary Glitter in which one of the witnesses stood to gain financially should the glam rock star be convicted.

In the trial the main witness for the prosecution, Allison Brown, would have been 25,000 richer if Gary Glitter had been convicted of sex offences.

Speaking at a Press Gallery lunch, Lord Irvine said there was a "real risk" that paying witnesses would encourage them to exaggerate their evidence.

Or alternatively he argued payments could force witnesses to keep evidence back for future exclusive stories.

The lord chancellor said: "Legislation will be brought forward when parliamentary time allows."

Fear over miscarriages of justice

Lord Irvine said if the jury was aware that a witness was contracted to a particular newspaper, they might wonder "if the witness's evidence has been affected by the contract".

He said: "This may not be the case but the suspicion that it could might be enough to cause a miscarriage of justice."

Lord Irvine also said he was waiting for the Press Complaints Commission report into the Glitter case "with very great interest".

"I have no reason to suppose that any newspaper will fail to abide by any decision that the PCC reached," he added.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
BBC RADIO NEWS
BBC ONE TV NEWS
WORLD NEWS SUMMARY
PROGRAMMES GUIDE

See also:
14 Nov 99 |  UK
Paper defends Glitter witness payment

Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites
Links to other UK Politics stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more UK Politics stories