Lords support bail crusade

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PEERS praised the parents of murdered Blackpool nurse Jane Clough in the House of Lords after giving their full backing to their campaign for bail reform.

John and Penny Clough, who were present in the House yesterday, described the unanimous support for The Gazette-backed Justice for Jane campaign as “momentous”.

Mr Clough said: “It is very elating. It still hasn’t sunk in yet, what we have achieved.

“It’s been an emotional day. We are amazed, it’s such a momentous day.”

Mr and Mrs Clough have been fighting for changes to bail law after their 26-year-old daughter was stabbed to death by her ex-partner Jonathan Vass in July 2010 while he was on bail accused of raping her.

The amendment to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill creates a right of appeal against the grant of bail by a crown court.

It was backed, without a vote, by all sides of the Lords after peers heard Mr and Mrs Clough were present in the House.

click here to read all of our Justice for Jane campaign stories.

Deputy Lords leader Lord McNally said peers were effectively approving “Jane’s law”. Lord Beecham, for the opposition, said if peers were given to standing ovations they would have given one to Miss Clough’s parents for their efforts. He said every so often “tragic incidents” led to legal changes and the “brutal murder” of the Blackpool accident and emergency nurse was one such occasion.

Lord Beecham, who said the Cloughs had come to the House to “see the culmination not only of their pain, but their campaign”, added: “There will never be any guarantee that whether bail is granted in a magistrates’ court or a higher court, the person granted bail will not commit an offence.”

But he said, at the very least, the prosecution should be able to take the matter to a higher court for determination and offer a better prospect of avoiding a “repetition of this dreadful incident”.

Mr Clough added: “When we were in the house we wanted to jump up, applaud and cheer. We can’t believe it is now here.”

The bill will now require Royal Assent before it officially becomes law.

MP for Blackpool South, Gordon Marsden, who has supported the Justice for Jane campaign, said: “This will be a great comfort to Jane’s family and all those who have supported the campaign.”

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