SFO details offensive to abolish jury trials
The Serious Fraud Office has stepped up its drive to abolish jury trials for long and complex fraud cases.
Plans to try and persuade parliament to accept the substitution of specially selected juries, or a process of a judge sitting with assessors, were spelled out in the SFO’s annual report.
An inactive section of the Criminal Justice Act allows trials to be held without juries, but only on the application of prosecution and defence where it is so complex or lengthy that it would be burdensome on jurors.
The report also renews appeals for a new offence of ‘fraud’ based on dishonesty, to enable cases to be presented in a way that concentrates on the criminal conduct involved rather than technical charges.
The activity of the SFO has been stepped up in the wake of an agreement for the City of London Police to take the lead in investigating the most serious cases in London and the southeast. Confiscation orders totalled £3m over the last year.