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Diplock Courts

mural of IRA gunmen
BBC Radio 4's Law In Action
Tuesday 3 July 1600 GMT
On Radio 4 and online

The controversial no-jury Diplock Courts in Northern Ireland will be abolished by the end of July.

The Diplock system was brought in as an emergency measure in 1973, after a government-commissioned report by Lord Diplock raised concerns about the intimidation of juries in a society torn apart by sectarian violence.

One judge effectively sat as both judge and jury in cases involving suspected paramilitary activity.

The judge would give a written verdict with their reasons for reaching it, and the defendant had automatic right to appeal.

Now, as part of normalisation, the legislation underpinning the Diplock court system is being repealed.

But the Director of Public Prosecutions in Northern Ireland can decide a case can be tried without a jury if a proscribed terrorist organisation is suspected of involvement.

Some say this doesn't go far enough, others say it's a step too far too soon.

Clive Coleman hears the arguments, and speaks to the Minister for Security in Northern Ireland, Paul Goggins and looks ahead to a new era for justice in Northern Ireland.

European Union law - legally what have we signed up to?

Map of E U countries
What does European Law mean to us?

There aren't many things that get us as a nation so collectively worked up as the idea of Europe taking our sovereign powers.

Consider the row over the new Reform Treaty that has risen Phoenix-like from the ashes of the rejected European Constitution.

There was the predictable political huffing and puffing over the treaty but what does it actually mean for us, especially when it comes to law and order?

Law in Action asked the independent-minded observer of EU law, Professor Damian Chalmers of the London School of Economics just what has the UK signed up to?

Speed Awareness Courses

speed camera
Will a new speed awareness course cure speeding on our roads?

A growing number of police forces in the UK are now offering drivers who've been caught speeding an alternative to the traditional three points: a speed awareness course.

Simply complete the course and you can drive away with a clean licence.

But with over 3,000 deaths recorded on British roads last year is this really an affective way of changing drivers' behaviour, or is this a soft touch?

Law in Action


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