Since my last post on Danny Nightingale I’ve been in touch with his solicitor, Simon McKay. I asked him what he thought about the Attorney’s response to Philip Hammond, and he replied:
My view is that the AG has the ability to review the case at any stage since he has supervisory jurisdiction over the SPA [the Service Prosecution Authority].
I see no real distinction in principle to the approach the DPP to the Ratcliffe on Soar case after the activities of Mark Kennedy became known; Keir Starmer reviewed the case and “invited” those convicted to appeal. That was not only innovative but reflected the burden of office an independent prosecutor carries.
This is an interesting point – he’s referring to this case, non-disclosure of material relating to the activities of an undercover police officer, Mark Kennedy, in which the DPP did indeed invite the defence to appeal.
I put it to Simon that the Attorney, who superintends prosecuting authorities, isn’t in an analogous position to the DPP. Simon accepted that but added:
he still retains supervisory jurisdiction and is entitled to review.
I don’t agree. As I wrote in my earlier post, the Attorney only intervenes in an individual criminal prosecution (excluding those for which his prior consent is needed by law) on grounds of national security. The DPP’s equivalent in this case is not the Attorney, but the Director of the Service Prosecution Authority, Bruce Houlder QC.
An appeal to the Court Martial Appeal Court is being lodged tomorrow along with an application for bail, Simon told me. The appeal against conviction will be based on Danny Nightingale’s plea not being a true indication of guilt; the appeal against sentence is based on it being manifestly excessive because it failed to have sufficient regard to the exceptional circumstances of the case. Simon’s instructed William Clegg QC to represent Danny Nightingale.