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R (Anderson) v Secretary of State for the Home Department

[2003] 1 A.C. 837

Case summary last updated at 07/02/2020 13:51 by the Oxbridge Notes in-house law team.

Judgement for the case R (Anderson) v Secretary of State for the Home Department

Under s.29 f Crime Sentence Act the Home Secretary has the power to use a tariff system to state earliest possible release date of life prisoners. D, who had been convicted of 2 murders, argued that for a politician to set his earliest release date was an infringement of his Article 6 Right to a fair trial etc. HL said that the imposition of a sentence, including earliest possible release date, was part of the trial within meaning of article 6 and therefore fairness demanded that the earliest possible release date ought to be set by an independent tribunal, not he home secretary, who couldn’t be considered independent of the executive and obviously was not a tribunal. It was impossible to interpret s.29 in a way compatible with article 6, a declaration of incompatibility ought to be made. Lord Bingham accepted that removing the home secretary’s role would make for greater uniformity of judgement. Lord Steyn: Tariff fixing is a judicial function and therefore it is against the right to a fair trial that the home secretary should be taking a judicial decision or playing a significant part in the trial outcome. 

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