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2.5 North West Protocol with Greater Manchester Police in Relation to Public Interest Immunity

This guideline is issued in, and should be read in, the context of the following:

  • Criminal Procedure (Attendance of Witnesses) Act 1965;
  • Criminal Procedure Rules 2010 – Parts 22 and 28;
  • Criminal Procedure and Investigations Act 1996;
  • The Attorney General’s Guidelines on Disclosure of Information in Criminal Proceedings 2005;
  • Protocol for the Control and Management of Unused Material in the Crown Court 2006;
  • Instructions for Staff issued concurrently with this guideline.

Pre Plea and Case Management Hearing

  1. Prior to the plea and case management hearing the prosecution will consider whether relevant material exists in the possession of a third party;
  2. If the prosecution believes that a third party holds relevant material that person or body should be told of the investigation and the need to preserve the material;
  3. In all cases the prosecutor should consider whether it is appropriate to seek access to the material as part of their duties to explore all reasonable lines of enquiry;
  4. If the prosecution decide that they should make an application for a witness summons that application must be submitted to the court and served on the third party no later than 14 days prior to the plea and case management hearing. The defence should be notified of the application at the same time;
  5. If the prosecution decide not to make an application for a witness summons that fact must be notified to the defence no later than 14 days prior to the plea and case management hearing.

Form of the Application 

  1. The prosecution application must comply strictly with the requirements of Rule 28 of the Criminal Procedure Rules (and any amendment thereto). In particular the application must set out:
    1. The allegations against the defendant together with a synopsis of the prosecution case;
    2. A synopsis of the defence case (insofar as it is known);
    3. The nature of the document(s) required and the issues(s) in the case to which they are likely to relate.
  2. Where the prosecution decide not to make an application for a witness summons and the defence are of the view that such an application is required the defence must inform the court at the plea and case management hearing that they intend to make such an application. The court will at that hearing fix the earliest possible date for service of the application for the witness summons and will also fix the earliest possible date for consideration of any objections to the application by the third party or, as the case may be, for consideration of the material by the trial judge;
  3. The defence application must comply strictly with the requirements of Rule 28 of the Criminal Procedure Rules (and any amendment thereto). In particular the application must set out:
    1. The allegations against the defendant together with a synopsis of the prosecution case;
    2. A synopsis of the defence case;
    3. The nature of the document(s) required and the issue(s) in the case to which they are likely to relate.
  4. Within 14 days of receipt of the application the third party will notify the court and the applicant about whether or not any representations are to be made in respect of the proposed witness summons;
  5. When deciding whether to issue a witness summons, the judge may request the material from the local authority or third party before deciding whether to issue the witness summons under rule 28.6;
  6. In cases where either party has made an application for a witness summons the court will at the plea and case management hearing, if the third party has not objected, approve service of the summons and fix the earliest possible date for consideration of the relevant material by the trial judge, giving  the third party at least 14 days;
  7. If the third party has objected to the issue of the witness summons then the court will at the plea and case management hearing fix the earliest possible date for consideration of that objection by the trial judge;
  8. Where a witness summons is issued by the court, either on behalf of the prosecution or defence, the court will notify the person to whom the matter relates of the hearing date before the trial judge.

Notice to Persons Affected by such Orders

  1. Whenever the Court considers material under Rule 28.6 or directs the issue of a witness summons for the production of material held in confidence such as medical records, social services files and records held by education authorities on children in their schools, it should also direct that a Notice be sent to the person(s) stated at 15 below indicating that representations may be made by and/or on behalf of the person to whom the records relate ("the relevant person");
  2. The Notice in the form of Annex A should be sent to the following person(s):
    1. If the relevant person is 18 or over, to the relevant person alone;
    2. If the relevant person is aged 14 to 17, to the relevant person and to the parent, guardian or local authority having the care of the relevant person;
    3. If the relevant person is aged under 14, to the parent, guardian, or the local authority having the care of the relevant person.
  3. The date for any oral representations referred to in the Notice should be the same as the return date for the witness summons;
  4. Any representations from the relevant person should be heard or read if possible after the records to which the summons relate have been considered, and in any event before the decision as to their disclosure has been taken. The representations should be referred to in the judgment dealing with disclosure.

Listing and Representation 

  1. The court will list all hearings which involve consideration of third party material before the trial judge;
  2. All third parties are encouraged to instruct counsel for the purpose of objecting to the issue of any witness summons or, as the case may be, to assist the court in the identification of potentially relevant material.

Materials to be Disclosed

  1. If material is disclosed during the proceedings, the Judge shall at the conclusion of the hearing and on returning of the file of papers to the third party, provide a copy of the material to the third party, or identify the material which was disclosed in the proceedings.

Storing of Original Materials

  1. The court confirms when in receipt of original material provided by third party that they have insured appropriate technical and organisational measures are in place to prevent unauthorised or unlawful processing of personal data and accidental loss or destruction of or damage to personal data.

Template Letter

Click here to view a sample/template Public Interest Immunity letter

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