Re Findlay [1985] AC 318


The Home Secretary changed his policy on the use of his discretionary power to release serious offenders on parole, so that prisoners who had committed especially heinous crimes would stay in prison longer. Four prisoners challenged the decision on the grounds (among others) that the view of the Parole Board was a relevant consideration which the Home Secretary had not considered, and that the decision unfairly breached their legitimate expectation of earlier release under the old policy. The House of Lords held in favour of the Home Secretary. On the relevance of the Parole Board’s view, Lord Scarman held for the unanimous court that the Home Secretary could decide it for himself. Lord Scarman accepted the view of Cooke J in CREEDNZ Inc v Governor General [1981] 1 NZLR 172, that the law requires a consideration to be taken into account only ‘when the statute expressly or impliedly identifies considerations required to be taken into account’ or when it would be Wednesbury-unreasonable not to take it into account (Findlay 334). On the legitimate expectation point, Lord Scarman held that because the statute was designed to enable the Home Secretary to implement a policy, ‘the most that a convicted prisoner can legitimately expect is that his case will be examined individually in the light of whatever policy the Secretary of State sees fit to adopt provided always that the adopted policy is a lawful exercise of the discretion conferred upon him by the statute’ (338).
From Oxford University Press


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