Charles Clarke underlined his personal contempt for the adversarial system of criminal justice in British courts when he revealed a series of controversial plans which have enraged miscarriage of justice campaigners.
The home secretary made it clear that he wants to put a stop to a "massive industry for the legal profession that has been giving away large amounts of money to individuals who do not deserve it".
He also criticised highly paid barristers on legal aid who pursued compensation claims to an unacceptable extent. The measures include:
Mr Clarke claims the backing of Lord Justice Auld's 2001 inquiry into the operation of the criminal courts for his proposal to ensure that a conviction is not quashed by the court of appeal simply because of an "error in the trial" or a technicality.
The home secretary said he had started an urgent review of the statutory test that the appeal court must use in deciding whether to quash a conviction.
He made it clear that one possible option was the introduction for appeal court cases only of the Scottish verdict of "not proven": "It would be a big change. It would be a radical change. The time has come to assess it."
Lord Justice Auld recommended the change in 2001, arguing it had come to the point where many people believed serious failures of due process should result in an acquittal whatever their effect on the safety of a conviction.
The package of changes to the compensation scheme for victims of miscarriages of justice will save about ?5m a year out of a total annual bill of ?8m. Some will have immediate effect. The government will no longer pay compensation above what is required by international obligations and so has now closed its discretionary payment scheme.
In one case under the discretionary scheme cited by Mr Clarke, a man convicted of smuggling offences for which he was fined and ordered to pay costs was awarded a seven-figure sum even though he had not even been to prison.
The statutory scheme paying out the minimum required by international obligations will continue and claimants will have the right to sue in the civil courts for compensation. Time limits are to be introduced for all applications.
The average time taken to settle cases has now reached more than three years, with five cases having taken more than 10 years to resolve.
Mr Clarke is to introduce legislation capping the maximum award at ?500,000 under the scheme, plus compensation for loss of earnings. Payments have increased sharply in recent years, with the average now more than ?250,000 and with more than 10% paid in legal fees. In one unidentified case more than ?2.1m was paid out. A limit is also to be placed on the amount of legal aid available in such cases. Earnings compensation will be limited to one and half times gross average industrial earnings.
The government will further limit the compensation payments made by giving an independent assessor the power to make deductions to take account of other convictions and the defendant's behaviour during the trial. In exceptional cases the compensation could be reduced to nil because of criminal convictions or the defendant's failure to be helpful in court.
Birmingham Six Paddy Hill, who was released 15 years ago after serving 16 years in prison following his wrongful conviction for IRA bomb attacks in the 1970s, was offered a "final settlement" of ?960,000 in 2000. He then faced a deduction of ?50,000 after being charged for bed and board during his years behind bars.
Michael and Vincent Hickey Received compensation payments of ?990,000 and ?506,000 after wrongfully spending almost 20 years in prison for the murder of the paper boy Carl Bridgewater. Their convictions were quashed in 1997 but it took a six-year battle for them to get their compensation payments. The Home Office independent assessor, Lord Brennan, knocked 20% off Michael Hickey's award and 25% off Vincent Hickey's because of their criminal records. They also faced ?60,000 deductions to cover the cost of board and lodging while they were in prison.
Winston Silcott He was awarded ?50,000 compensation after being wrongly convicted of murdering PC Keith Blakelock, 40, who was hacked to death by a mob during the Broadwater Farm riots in Tottenham, north London, 20 years ago. Silcott was one of three men convicted of the police officer's killing but the conviction was overturned on appeal in 1991. At the time his award was confirmed Silcott was serving life for murdering a boxer at a party in 1984, the year before PC Blakelock was killed.