Dear Sir Roger,
I have seen that in the media today you have asked people to “calm down” and be “rational” about how the ISA will operate.
I hope therefore that you don’t mind me writing you this calm letter which, I hope, will give a clear rational reason for my concerns.
It is paragraph 5.6.1 of “Guidance Notes for Barring Decision Marking Process”, which states in part:
“even where a jury has found someone not guilty of having done something, you must always remember that, at most, this means is that the court did not find that someone did something “beyond a reasonable doubt” (the criminal standard of proof).”
My concern is simply this. When a jury acquits it may do so for all sorts of reasons. One may be that it thinks someone was probably guilty, but not “beyond a reasonable doubt”. But another is that it has decided that there is no credible evidence at all for the case.
Imagine the situation where you have been framed for a criminal act, but the truth comes out in court, the jury is completely convinced that you are innocent and you are acquitted. Can you really, hand on heart, say that in such circumstances you would be quite happy for someone to say that all your acquittal means is that “at most all the court has done is decide you didn’t do it beyond a reasonable doubt”.
Wouldn’t you feel that use of “at most” greatly underplays how you have in fact been fully acquitted, without any doubts?
Sometimes people are wrongly charged and fully, without doubt, acquitted. It is a shame that your guidance is so reluctant to admit that.