Fraud trials the focus of Queen’s Speech

The Lords and Commons will no longer be required to pass motions agreeing to
allow trials to proceed without a jury in cases involving ‘serious fraud’ under
legislation outlined in the Queen’s Speech today.

The Fraud (Trials Without Jury) bill will require the prosecution to apply to
a High Court Judge for an order agreeing to proceed without a jury in each case.
It will also require the approval of the Lord Chief Justice.

A Home Office briefing said it wanted ‘an effective criminal justice system
which is rebalanced in favour of the law-abiding majority’ and claimed that
trials without juries ‘would help prevent evasion of justice in the most serious
and complex fraud cases by ensuring that criminality is exposed’.

The bill will ‘take forward proposals from the Roskill Report of 1986 and the
Auld Report of 2001’.

The Home Office complained there were 26 fraud trials lasting more than six
months between 2002 and 2005 and that in 20 prosecuted by the Serious Fraud
Office the cost of legal aid alone averaged £540,000 per case.

The Queen’s Speech also proposed a Statistical Reform bill creating a new
independent board ‘with a statutory responsibility for ensuring the quality and
comprehensiveness of official statistics’.

It will be outside ministerial control with special funding arrangements
outside the normal spending review process and hold the National Statistician to

Related reading