Use of supergrass comes under scrutiny
The "supergrass" has come under scrutiny recently following concerns about the evidence of a key police informant in two separate criminal cases; Gary Eaton's evidence has now been dismissed by two judges as unreliable. Mark George QC of GCN was interviewed for Lexis Nexis Current Awareness (published 4/10/11) on whether the benefits outweigh the disadvantages or whether they are just too unreliable.
Extracts from the article as follows:
Mark George QC , a seasoned criminal defence barrister who was not involved in either of these cases, says: âThe cases in which supergrasses tend to appear are those where the likelihood is that the police wouldnât otherwise have been able to arrest the criminals. They tend to be large-scale conspiracies, drug importers, street gangs. It is often difficult for the police to build a case without inside information.
âIn one sense they are the best witness the police could ask for because they have inside information and are able to talk about things others couldnât possibly have had access to, but equally, they are potentially the most unreliable because they are often motivated by self-interest".
George says: âThe defence will be asking for disclosure from the prosecution of any deal they have done or financial reward they are likely to get, and generally attacking their credibility. The prosecution is obliged to disclose any financial reward the witness could receive. Generally speaking, the police arenât in a position to offer a sentence reduction but they can give the judge a letter setting out the help that has been provided by the witness".
> The full article can be found on under Current Awareness on the Lexis Nexis network (subscription only) ref: LNB News 04/10/2011 86 "Use of Supergrass Comes Under Scrutiny". Click here to sign in if you have an account.