Dame Vera Baird QC responds to the Lord Chancellor’s announcement

The Victims’ Commissioner Dame Vera Baird QC has welcomed the return to jury trials but cautioned that victims must be kept informed and their rights respected

Jury trials were suspended on 23 March because of risks associated with Covid19.

In a statement issued earlier today (11 May) the Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland MP said that a few trials would start at the Old Bailey in London and Cardiff Crown Court shortly and would help the courts to work through how trials could start more widely In the context of coronavirus

Dame Vera Baird QC said: “ I am pleased the Lord Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice are making a serious bid to restart jury trials as we know them, despite the challenges of social distancing, Officials at the Courts and Tribunal Service have worked hard to make it possible.

“These ‘trial trials’ will have to be monitored closely and victims’ rights must be protected.  It is disappointing that as Victims Commissioner I am not on the group which has organised this since victims are concerned about the risks and how it will work.

“It is an ideal time to put remote evidence centres, which exist in many police areas and are underused, at the centre of trials to save victims from the anxiety of attending court or running into their adversary on the way.”