The Prime Minister summoned the Justice Secretary to a one-on-one meeting in Downing Street yesterday and told him to go back to the drawing board.
MPs, victims groups and lawyers have all denounced Mr Clarke’s plans to slash jail terms by 50 per cent for those criminals prepared to plead guilty early.
Police minister Nick Herbert revealed at the weekend that the measure would mean 10,000 felons, including murderers and rapists would see their sentences slashed.
The Justice Secretary had previously enraged rape victims by insisting he would halve the time behind bars for sex criminals.
He was forced to apologise for suggesting that some forms of rape were more serious than others.
But the Prime Minister’s intervention means that the 50 per cent cuts are now set to be scrapped for serious crimes – and could be abolished for even minor offences.
Instead, criminals would get a one-third reduction in their sentence for an early guilty plea – the same level as at present.
Mr Cameron is so troubled that the Tories are losing their reputation as the party of law and order that he is to make a speech later this month which will depict the Conservatives as tough on crime.
A senior Government source told the Mail: ‘We wouldn’t make that speech unless we had something worth saying. It will come when we’ve concluded the sentencing review.’
A No 10 aide confirmed the talks took place: ‘It is not unusual for ministers to talk through their plans with the Prime Minister.’ Mr Clarke will now have to find more than £100million of savings from elsewhere in his budget.
A source close to the Justice Secretary did not deny that he had been asked to re-work his plans. He said: ‘The policy has not been settled. Details of the costs and how to pay for them have yet to be decided.’
The rethink comes as it was revealed that a convicted rapist let out on licence half way through an eight-year sentence attempted to rape a woman weeks after being released. Fabian Thomas, 23, wore a balaclava and used a hunting knife to attack his victim as she walked home from a supermarket.
The 19-year-old woman managed to fight him off after a ‘considerable struggle’ in the car park of Aldi in Plymouth on February 20.
Thomas, of Plymouth, was arrested the following day and immediately recalled to prison. On Monday, he admitted one count of attempted rape at Plymouth Crown Court.
He had originally been sentenced to eight years in a young offenders’ institution in 2006 after raping a woman
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Edited by David, 08 June 2011 - 05:46 PM.
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