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Tuesday, 16 May, 2000, 17:05 GMT 18:05 UK
Debate: Double jeopardy

Conservative leaders are calling for an end to the law which prevents prosecution after acquittal - trying someone for the same crime twice.

A Labour barrister, a Conservative former home secretary and a member of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry team write about the issue for BBC News Online.

Click on the names to read their views.


Brian Sedgemore, Labour MP for Hackney South and Shoreditch and a barrister, says removing the double jeopardy rule would be an affront to civil liberty.

He warns his own party that in the law and order debate one demand always leads to another more oppressive demand, and the Conservatives will soon be calling for the return of the death penalty.


Michael Howard, Conservative MP for Folkstone and Hythe and home secretary from 1993 to 1997, backs changing the double jeopardy rule and says the case for doing so is much stronger now than when he was at the Home Office.

He says Labour's attack on William Hague's "knee-jerk populism" in raising the issue is just a knee-jerk response from the party.


Richard Stone, chairman of the Jewish Council for Racial Equality, was a member of the Stephen Lawrence inquiry team which recommended that the government consider changing the double jeopardy rule.

He says he accepts that fears that the change would be used mostly against black people are justified, but the gross injustice of a murderer being beyond the law even in the face of new compelling evidence is a greater injustice.

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