Page last updated at 13:39 GMT, Friday, 15 January 2010

Republican can challenge no-jury trial decision

Scales of Justice

A leading republican has won the High Court's permission to challenge a decision to hold his forthcoming trial without a jury.

Brian Arthurs, 45, of Finulagh Road, Castlecaulfield, Dungannon, and his wife Paula face charges linked to an alleged mortgage fraud.

They want to quash a decision by the Director of Public Prosecutions to hold the trial in front of a judge alone.

Mr Arthurs' barrister said trial by one's peers was "a fundamental right."

It is the first time an attempt has been made to judicially review provisions under the Justice and Security (Northern Ireland) Act 2007.

Lord Chief Justice Sir Justice Morgan ruled that leave to seek a judicial review should be granted to allow examination of the legislation.

"We are minded... to take the view that this case is the first opportunity this court has had to take a good hard look at how statutory provisions apply in this jurisdiction," he said.

He also said it would enable guidance on how the provisions should operate to be given to other courts.

The judicial review case will now proceed to a full hearing in May.

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