Trial without jury dropped from Criminal Justice Act

The government has scrapped plans to use powers in the Criminal Justice Act
to facilitate trial without jury in serious fraud cases, and now plans to
introduce permissive provisions in new legislation.

The move was announced in the Lords by Attorney-General Lord Goldsmith, who
said it had proved impossible to negotiate a compromise solution with opposition
parties to abolish the right to trial by jury using order-making powers under
the act.
He said ministers now plan primary legislation to push the proposal through.

Goldsmith rejected a bid by Liberal Democrat Lord Thomas of Gresford, a
former deputy High Court judge, to strengthen the power of judges to control
cases and speed up trials, including instead the curtailment of lengthy

A series of peers, including former Law Lords and a former Tory attorney
general insisted judges and prosecutors were to blame for celebrated fraud cases
that had collapsed, and insisted that if cases were presented properly, juries
could cope.

Thomas said the opposition ‘cannot agree that it is necessary or desirable to
abolish juries in complex cases’.

Earlier during debates on the fraud bill, Goldsmith rejected proposal to
scrap the crime of ‘conspiracy to defraud’ following the creation of the
statutory offence of fraud and with it the narrower statutory offence of

He introduced a new clause making it an offence to defraud a machine – to
catch those committing internet and chip-and-pin card crimes.

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