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Saturday, 13 July, 2002, 13:42 GMT 14:42 UK
Head to head: Reforming justice
A leaked document has revealed proposals for a radical overhaul of the criminal justice system which could reduce the number of trials heard by juries.

The government plans have raised concerns among civil liberties groups and organisations representing the legal profession.

The Bar Council - the regulatory and representative body for barristers in England and Wales - warns against meddling with the jury system.

But the White Paper does include some things lawyers will be pleased about, says Janet Paraskeva, chief executive of the Law Society - which represents 80,000 solicitors.


The Bar Council

It seems the executive doesn't like the idea of the public playing a role in the justice system.

The public trusts the jury system, the government needs to show it trusts the public.

In terms of jury-nobbling, it is not good enough to give up on the justice system because of intimidation.

It's a very serious offence, the government should be saying they will strengthen penalties and increase resources for investigation.

This should be an invitation to the police to redouble their efforts to crack the heart of some of the most serious criminal gangs in the country.

If they see the government walking away from justice and saying they can't handle it then that's a disaster.

On serious fraud, it's wrong to suggest that the public can't understand it, and we don't think the public will accept an executive justice system for executives.


Janet Paraskeva

We are pleased that we are seeing government proposing a unification of the criminal justice system so that all of us can work together much more efficiently for the delivery of proper justice.

We are concerned about the reduction in access to jury trial and we do warn that any reduction must be viewed with extreme caution.

We are pleased, however, that the government haven't gone for the widespread reduction in access to jury trial that we had once feared.

We will fight obviously to ensure that the right to remain innocent until you are proved guilty is a fundamental right that is a cornerstone of British justice, and the defence lawyer's job will be to absolutely ensure that that is the case.

We are concerned about the double jeopardy case and we would want to consider the government's proposals very seriously indeed.

Obviously, if a trial is corrupt then there should be a second trial, but simply because some other new evidence emerges I think is not necessarily enough cause.

Find out more about criminal justice reforms proposed for England and Wales

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18 Jun 02 | Politics
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