Attorney General’s office replies to complaint about length of time for consent decision.

20th July 2016


This letter is sent on behalf of Her Majesty’s Attorney General [“Attorney General”] and is his response to your letter before claim of 15 July 2016. The letter is drafted in accordance with the Pre-Action Protocol for Judicial Review.

1 The claimants

Angie Zelter for Knighton Peace &  Justice Group
Robert Manson for Pembrokesire PICAT & West Wales PICAT Groups
Alicia Hull for Norfolk Peace & Justice Group
Jim Pragnall for Sevenoakes Action for Peace & Justice Group
This reply will be sent to and by first class post to Ms Angie Zelter, 6 Church Street, Knighton, Powys  LD7 1AG.

2 From
The Attorney General c/o of the Attorney General’s Office, 20 Victoria Street, London SW1H 0NF

3 Reference details

4 The details of the matter being challenged
The Claimants challenge the alleged delay in the Attorney General providing his decision as to whether to consent to a prosecution of the Secretary of Defence for conspiracy to commit a war crime.
5 Response to the proposed claim
The Attorney General’s Office has received five requests for consent to prosecute the Secretary of Defence for conspiracy to commit a war crime in the preceding five months. The most recent of these was received a little over 3 weeks ago on 21st June 2016 (by letter dated 15th June). Variously, the review that has been provided of the evidence (i.e. the basis on which it is contended that there is sufficient evidence for the Attorney General to consent to a prosecution) is a little over three paragraphs long. The evidence “and other Materials” on which the applications purport to rely extends to nearly 50 documents, many of which are lengthy and the vast majority of which have not been supplied with the application.
The more recent applications include the following assertions: “Full and further particulars will be provided at a later stage”; other “Information… will also be provided as and when necessary”; and “we have provided a few signed witness statements to provide an indication of the kinds of particulars we will be providing in much greater detail at that later stage”. It is therefore far from clear what, if any, further material it is intended will be supplied in support of the applications and when it is proposed that will be provided. It is incumbent on any prosecutor seeking the Attorney General’s consent to set out fully the details of the case they intend to advance and provide all evidence on which they intend to rely.
Bearing in mind the circumstances set out above, we do not accept that the fact no decision has been reached in relation to these applications is unreasonable. We will endeavour to ensure that a decision on the granting of consent is made within 28 days of the date of this letter. However, if you send further information, evidence or applications there is likely to be further delay. Plainly it would be helpful for us to have a clear indication of what, if any, further information, evidence or applications you intend to submit in the forthcoming weeks or months.

6 Details of any other Interested Parties
The Attorney General agrees that the Secretary of State for Defence is an interested party.
7 ADR proposals
8 Response to requests for information and documents

9 Address for further correspondence and service of court documents
If proceedings are issued, the address for further correspondence and service of court documents is: The Treasury Solicitor, One Kemble Street, London WC2B 4TS, reference: Andrew King/B4.
For the detailed reasons given above, we do not consider your proposed challenge to be well-founded. In the event that a claim is issued, the Attorney General reserves the right to seek his costs if successful.
Yours sincerely

Craig Hollands
Correspondence Unit

D +44 (0)20 7271 2492