The government is unlikely to address concerns about the inadequate funding and lack of political independence of the miscarriage of justice watchdog raised by an independent two-year parliamentary inquiry last year. A group set up by the all-party parliamentary group on miscarriages of justice, co-chaired by the conservative peer Lord Garnier QC and cross-bencher Lady Stern, found that the Criminal Cases Review Commission had suffered the ‘biggest cut’ of any part of the criminal justice system since 2010 and its caseload has more than doubled over the same period, according to a parliamentary investigation.
The so called Westminster Commission said the CCRC ‘needs to demonstrate its independence from government’ and expressed concern over what a 2020 court judgment called a ‘dysfunctional relationship’ with the Ministry of Justice (MoJ). In April 2021, the then justice minister Alex Chalk offered an initial and dismissive response suggesting that the CCRC was adequately funded and that a more detailed appraisal of the report would follow. ‘The report makes more than 30 recommendations, covering a broad area,’ he said. ‘I hope [members] will forgive me if I do not reflect on each individually, because time does not allow for that. I can say that the MOJ will consider each recommendation made for the Department in detail.’
In response to a written question by Labour MP Catherine West, Chalk’s successor James Cartlidge suggested that there would be no further response from the government, noting: ‘During that debate, the minister noted the CCRC’s good performance, the additional funding provided to it, and the position on the most significant recommendations in the report.’