Wrangle could hold up justice for Julie.Byline: Michelle Ruane And Bill Doult
A clash between the Commons and the Lords could threaten a Teesside couple's hopes of justice for their murdered daughter.
Ann Ming and her husband Charlie last week thought their fight to reform the double jeopardy double jeopardy: see jeopardy.
In law, the prosecution of a person for an offense for which he or she already has been prosecuted. In U.S. law was within sight of success after the Lords approved moves to change the law.
It had brought closer the prospects of a third murder trial for Billy Dunlop
castrated male sheep usually 10 to 14 months old. Also used to describe an uncastrated male pig. , in July 1989.
But the whole Criminal Justice Bill - of which the double jeopardy reform is just one part - may now fall victim to a fierce row over totally different aspects of the legislation.
Tory and LibDem peers remain opposed to several key features of the bill, especially moves to abolish the right to trial by jury in particular cases.
And with the government without a majority in the Lords and Home Secretary David Blunkett David Blunkett (born 6 June 1947) is a British Labour Party politician and has been Member of Parliament for Sheffield Brightside since 1987. Blind since birth and from a poor family, he rose to become Education Secretary from 1997 to 2001, and then Home Secretary from 2001 to refusing to abandon the jury trial changes, the entire bill is in danger of being killed off when the parliamentary year ends later this month.
The Home Office insists it would re-introduce the bill in the new session and, if necessary, use the Parliament Act to force it through despite Lords opposition.
But it would mean having to go through the parliamentary processes again and be delayed.
Stockton North MP Frank Cook, who has campaigned with the Mings to change the double jeopardy laws, said: "I am now gravely concerned about the prospects."
He was clearly outraged by the threat from the Lords.
Reacting to the latest news, days after it looked like a final victory was just weeks away, Ann Ming said: "We have had setbacks and another delay would be frustrating frus·trate
tr.v. frus·trat·ed, frus·trat·ing, frus·trates
a. To prevent from accomplishing a purpose or fulfilling a desire; thwart: , but we must remain hopeful. Frank Cook's support has been marvellous."
Last night Mr Cook was contacting the Home Secretary's private office to try to obtain further clarification of what could happen.
A senior Home Office aide has told the Gazette that Home Secretary Mr Blunkett is determined to include the changes to the right to jury trials. Those changes mainly affected major fraud trials, which can be complicated and lengthy.
November 16 marks the 14th anniversary of Julie's death.