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Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 February 2008, 16:20 GMT
No-jury trial request is rejected
Lady Justice, Old Bailey
A request for a trial without jury was made by the CPS
A judge has rejected the first application in England and Wales for a trial without a jury since new legislation was passed.

The Crown Prosecution Service had asked for a judge-only trial because of fears there was a "real and present danger" that jury tampering may take place.

But the judge dismissed the request, which was the first made under Section 44 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003.

None of those involved in the trial can be named for legal reasons.

During legal argument, the prosecutor said: "Section 44 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 was passed precisely for this reason.

"This is a necessary and proportionate response to a threat to the integrity of the criminal justice system".

He also argued that recent events in Northern Ireland - where a judge sitting alone acquitted a man accused of the Omagh bombing - suggested the defendant could get a fair trial.

But counsel for the defence argued that it was a "very very draconian step" and added "no doubt in some cases it should be ordered but we are a very very long way from that".

The trial will now go ahead with a jury.

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