“Firstly, I hope you had a great Christmas break and can I take this opportunity to wish all readers a Happy 2018!
Since I last wrote, I have had the great honour of going to Buckingham Palace with my wife and daughter to receive my knighthood from HRH the Prince of Wales. It was a tremendous experience for me – particularly as it doesn’t seem all that long ago (well, ok it does seem rather a long time ago) when I was standing guard outside the palace as a young boy soldier.
In the run up to Christmas, I had a busy few weeks in Parliament. I led two important debates and also took part in debates on deafness and the Rohingya crisis.
The first debate I led was on the Unduly Lenient Sentences Scheme.
Under this scheme anyone can ask for a Crown Court sentence to be reviewed if they think it is too lenient – but, there are complex restrictions. Only certain types of cases are included in the scheme and the request must be submitted within 28 days of the sentence being passed.
It is absolutely right that anyone who has been found guilty has the right to appeal against the severity of their sentence. There is no argument about that. However, the procedure for victims, a victim’s representative or someone such as their MP to appeal against the undue leniency of a sentence is quite perverse.
The types of cases that qualify is vague and confusing and the 28-day limit, in many cases it passes before the sentence is made public. There have been several cases where constituents have written to me calling for a longer sentence in a particular case and when I write to the Attorney General on their behalf, it turns out the 28-day limit had long passed before the press report was published. This is wrong. It is unfair for the victims.
The second debate was on hormone pregnancy tests. I believe this is a national disaster akin to the Thalidomide scandal. Primados was a hormone pregnancy test used in the 60s and 70s that induced menstruation in women. The subsequent presence or absence of menstrual bleeding was then used to determine pregnancy. The problem is that it was a highly invasive procedure and there is evidence to suggest it caused damage to the foetus in some women who were pregnant. The long-awaited report, that was published last month, was quite simply a whitewash. This has gone on far too long and the people affected need help.
Finally, the photo shows me supporting the Dogs Trust campaign against puppy smuggling. I’ve had over 100 emails supporting this campaign.”
Rt Hon Sir Mike Penning MP
Published on: January 15, 2018