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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 February 2007, 10:42 GMT
Schoolboy to face bully charges
The High Court in London has given the go-ahead for a boy to face a criminal trial following alleged bullying incidents at a Hertfordshire school.

Lawyers for the boy, who was 11 at the time of the incidents, warned against the "unnecessarily swamping" of the youth courts with school fight cases.

But two senior judges ruled that it was open to the Crown Prosecution Service to decide whether to bring charges.

The boy was charged with assaulting two classmates in October, last year.

Mr Justice Lloyd Jones told how the boy, who cannot be named because of his age, but is identified in court as "H", was of previous good character and claimed he was defending himself. He was disciplined by the school.

There should be no swamping of the youth courts unnecessarily
Ms Jemma Levinson, appearing for H

It was alleged that he had punched and kicked one of the boys during lessons, and then there had been a second, more prolonged incident involving both alleged victims outside the class. H said he had been defending himself.

Ms Jemma Levinson, appearing for H at the High Court, submitted that the decision to prosecute was flawed as the incidents did not justify the financial cost of criminal proceedings.

'Playground fights'

She said: "Both incidents involve school fights, no injury of any sort, no damage to clothing - nothing exceptional, in my submission.

"I am not suggesting this behaviour ought to be tolerated, but it is exactly the sort of behaviour the chairman of the Youth Justice Board said was properly dealt with 'in situ', in school, and there should be no swamping of the youth courts unnecessarily".

Lady Justice Hallett said the incidents complained of were "fairly typical" of the playground fights which "in my day would have been dealt with by the school" and she was surprised that an 11-year-old was getting prosecuted.

But she agreed with Mr Justice Lloyd Jones that the CPS had a wide discretion on whether or not to prosecute, and the decision to go ahead in H's case with charges of common assault was not contrary to any settled policy.

The school in question is in the Welwyn and Hatfield area.




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