‘Yes’ to appeals for bail victims

Penny and John Clough with the tree that has been planted in memory of their daughter Jane at Barrowford Cemetery.
Penny and John Clough with the tree that has been planted in memory of their daughter Jane at Barrowford Cemetery.
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THE Gazette-backed campaign for reform to the laws surrounding bail of suspected dangerous offenders moved a step closer after the Justice Minister threw his weight behind the move.

Crispin Blunt today supported changes to allow victims, through the Crown Prosecution Service, a chance to appeal bail decisions.

The parents of Jane Clough, who was murdered by her ex-partner while he was out on bail facing rape charges against her, said the support was welcome – but they now want to know when the proposals will actually become fixed in law.

Penny Clough, Jane’s mother, said: “We really need to know when this is going to become law and start working for victims.

“It’s nice having it (a statement) from him, to know it is verging on law.

“But we want it to go through as quickly as possible and start saving lives. We are just parents trying to make a difference.”

The Justice for Jane campaign, which has won the support of thousands of Gazette readers and members of the public, was launched after Miss Clough, 26, was stabbed to death by Jonathan Vass in the car park of Blackpool Victoria Hospital in July 2010.

Click here to read all the latest stories on the Justice for Jane campaign and sign the online petition.

The proposed amendment to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill will enable prosecutors to appeal crown court decisions to release suspected serious offenders on bail to a High Court judge.

Justice minister Crispin Blunt said: “As a matter of course, defendants who have committed violent crimes and pose a danger to the public are always remanded in custody while they are awaiting trial.

“But we know that there have been occasions when offenders have been bailed and have gone on to commit more, and sometimes very serious, crimes.

“These changes will provide a vital safeguard for the public by allowing prosecutors to challenge crown court bail decisions when they fear a potentially dangerous defendant may be being bailed.”

MP for Pendle, Andrew Stephenson, submitted a Private Member’s Bill for bail amendment, on behalf of the Clough family, last year. It is due a second reading in March.

David Cameron supported the campaign during an announcement in the Commons last week.

Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden said: “It would be an enormous tribute to the work of the Cloughs, The Gazette, and all the campaigners when the proposal becomes law.”

And Paul Maynard, MP for Blackpool North and Cleveleys, said: “This is an important step forward in providing safeguards.

“It’s testament of the hard work of many campaigners.”

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