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Re Findlay

[1985] AC 318

Case summary last updated at 05/01/2020 17:41 by the Oxbridge Notes in-house law team.

Judgement for the case Re Findlay

Under statute the home secretary had the power to release on licence prisoners whom the parol board recommended to him. In the classes of drug-traffickers and violent offenders sentenced to more than 5 years he adopted a policy of not granting release other than in the most exceptional cases. Ps argued that the new policy was unlawful because (1) it was drawn up without consulting the parol board beforehand and (2) it discriminated between offenders in a way not authorised by statute (the legislation was silent on this point). HL dismissed the claims, saying that no express or implied statutory requirement which imposed upon the Home Secretary any obligation to consult the board prior to formulating changes in parole policy. The statute also did NOT prevent the home sec from distinguishing between prisoners. In fact gravity of sentence was a relevant consideration in forming any policy, and did not exclude consideration of other relevant factors since he was willing to deviate from his policy in exceptional cases. 
Lord Scarman: “The question, therefore, is simply: did the new policy constitute a refusal to consider the cases of prisoners within the specified classes? The answer is clearly "no." Consideration of a case is not excluded by a policy which provides that exceptional circumstances or compelling reasons must be shown because of the weight to be attached to the nature of the offence, the length of the sentence and the factors of deterrence, retribution, public confidence, all of which it was the duty of the Secretary of State to consider.” 

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