Letter: Trial by jury

Sir: I cannot imagine where Dr Payne (letter, 20 May) has been watching magistrates in action. The police often complain that too many defendants are acquitted; is that only at the crown court?

If the right to a jury trial is restricted, as now, then a change in the exercise of that right is not a point of principle but of degree.

All defendants must have the right to a fair trial, however minor Parliament considers the crime. To ensure this, all courts must be seen to be fair. If the magistrates' courts can be shown to be as bad as asserted, then that matter needs attention independently of the right to a jury trial.

JOHN HENDERSON JP

Alton, Hampshire

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