London Daily

Focus on the big picture.

Barristers accuse ministers of rushing release of pre-recorded video evidence

Barristers accuse ministers of rushing release of pre-recorded video evidence

Barristers say there are insufficient resources and funding, particularly amid indefinite walkout
Barristers have accused ministers of ignoring a crisis in the criminal justice system by continuing to roll out pre-recorded video evidence for rape survivors in England and Wales amid a strike by advocates.

The policy, allowing complainants of offences including modern slavery to be cross-examined before trial in front of a limited number of people, was extended to five more crown courts on Friday, taking the total to 63. Three-quarters of courts are covered and all will be by the end of the month.

While barristers support the thinking behind section 28, which also covers witnesses, they say there are insufficient resources and funding for it, particularly in the light of the indefinite walkout over legal aid fees, which began on Monday.

The Criminal Bar Association said even before the strike had begun some advocates refused to do section 28 cases because of the amount of extra work it entailed for no additional money.

Kirsty Brimelow, the CBA chair, said: “It’s introducing processes while having fingers in your ears and your eyes shut as to the practical reality of how justice is being delivered in the criminal courts. You can’t keep introducing extra processes with extra work for barristers without proper funding.

“The case itself might be listed in a year’s time. The barrister then has to prepare the case again when it comes to trial for no extra money.”

Before recording the evidence barristers have to attend a “ground rules” hearing and must submit questions for the complainant. Section 28 interviews take precedent over other matters, even if the advocate is in the middle of another trial, which may have to be suspended as a result.

Mary Aspinall-Miles, who sits on the CBA’s rape and serious sexual offences group, said: “Nobody wants to traumatise complainants or defendants any more than they need to be, that’s why we support section 28 in principle, she said. “But the Ministry of Justice [MoJ] and lord chancellor have tried to act as if it’s business as usual while ignoring an increasing backlog [in the courts].

“It’s not taking the bigger picture into account. What’s this actually going to do to crown court listings? How is this going to work in practice? How are the resources going to be made available to court judges to be able to run this efficiently and effectively? And how is it going to interplay with availability?”

On Thursday, the CBA said the new justice secretary, Brandon Lewis, had agreed to meet its leaders after they had been angered by the refusal of his predecessor, Dominic Raab, to face them over the negotiating table.

Criminal barristers are demanding a 25% increase in legal aid fees after a fall in their real earnings of 28% since 2006. They say such a rise is required to prevent the collapse of a criminal justice system on its knees because of cuts. The government has agreed to a 15% uplift but only to new cases and the CBA says the crown courts’ backlog of about 60,000 cases means the increase could take years to have effect.

James Oliveira-Agnew, a barrister who helps run vulnerable witness training for other advocates. said of section 28: “It’s a good idea but just as with everything that seems to go through criminal justice, it’s a good idea poorly thought out. It needs funding, and it needs people to be paid property for it. Otherwise, it’s just not going to work.”

The MoJ did not comment on the criticisms but the justice minister, Rachel Maclean, said pre-recorded evidence was a vital part of “overhauling the way rape victims are supported through the criminal justice system so that more cases come to court and more rapists are put safely behind bars”.

Related Articles

London Daily
Britain’s Refugee Visa Rules Stranding Children in War Zones
UK Elections Predict ‘Electoral Extinction’ for PM Sunak’s Conservative Party
Italian Activist Ilaria Salis Returns Home After Election to European Parliament
Good morning!
England Faces Serbia in Euro Opener with Defensive Concerns
Dermatologist Warns Against Sunbed Usage
Fake Pro-Reform UK Social Accounts and Their Influence on Elections
UK Man Jailed for Non-Consensual Condom Removal
Reform UK Surpasses Conservatives in Historic Poll
US, Britain, Canada Accuse Russia of Interference in Moldova’s Election
Taylor Swift Fans Create Seismic Activity in Edinburgh
Sunak Aide Under Investigation for Election Bet
Labour Leader Starmer Focuses on Wealth Creation for Upcoming UK Elections
G7 to Use Frozen Russian Assets for $50 Billion Ukraine Aid
Anti-Israel Irish MEP Clare Daly LOST her seat in the EU Election
Johnson & Johnson Settles Talc Safety Claims for $700 Million
EU Urged to Welcome Skilled Russians to Weaken Putin
EU Elections Overview: Far-Right Gains and Major Political Shifts
Israel Rescues Four Hostages from Gaza
Emmanuel Macron Calls for Snap Election
Jordan Bardella: Young Far-Right Leader Poised for Future Political Influence in France
World's Oldest Privately Owned Book Auctioned for $3.8 Million
Animal Rights Activists Deface King Charles' Portrait in Protest
Dutch Military Intel Uncovers Extensive Chinese Cyber Espionage
Turkish Student Arrested for Using AI to Cheat in University Exam
Rise in Dengue and Other Mosquito-Borne Diseases in Europe Due to Climate Change
EU Elections Overview: Far-Right Gains and Major Political Shifts
Far-Right National Rally Dominates France's EU Vote
Macron Calls Snap Legislative Elections After Far-Right Victory
Far-Right Gains Significantly in EU Election
UK Job Market Shows Signs of Recovery
Orban’s Fidesz Party Wins Majority in Hungary’s EU Elections as New Challenger Emerges
Meloni's Far-Right Party Wins European Elections in Italy
Key Insights from the European Union Elections
European Union Elections and Rise of Far-Right Parties
England Loses Over 260,000 Social Rent Homes in a Decade
Campaigners Urge Government to Block Shein's FTSE Listing
First NHS AI-Run Physiotherapy Clinic Launches This Year
British TV Presenter Michael Mosley Found Dead on Greek Island
Ukrainian Forces Claims First Strike on Russia's Su-57 Fighter Jet
Macron Dissolves Parliament and Calls Snap Elections
Russia Adds Yulia Tymoshenko to Wanted List
UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron Tricked by Hoax Caller Posing as Former Ukrainian President
Kate Middleton's Absence from Colonel's Review Due to Chemotherapy
UK Foreign Secretary Deceived by Prank Video Call
Sunak Criticised Over D-Day Exit in BBC Debate
Rishi Sunak Apologizes for Leaving D-Day Commemoration Early
UK Woman Sentenced After Causing Fatal Crash While Sending Selfies
Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen Assaulted in Central Copenhagen
UN to Add Israel to Human Rights Blacklist