Murder trial hit by anonymous witnesses ruling

A £6 million murder trial was halted at the Old Bailey today following a Law Lords ruling on witnesses giving evidence anonymously.









The murder trial of two men accused of shooting east London businessman Charles Butler was stopped after lawyers considered last week's ruling.



The Law Lords, in allowing an appeal in another murder case, ruled that defendants have the right to know who is giving evidence against them.



The Old Bailey case is the first casualty of the ruling but dozens of cases around the country are being affected.



The police, the Crown Prosecution Service and defence teams are studying the ruling and reviewing cases.



Judge David Paget discharged the jury at the Old Bailey today after two months of hearing evidence.



The trial, which was nearing the end of the prosecution case, was the culmination of a multimillion-pound four-year inquiry into the shooting and alleged police corruption.



Four witnesses had given evidence under false names and from behind screens.



Prosecutor Timothy Cray said a retrial was expected to be held next year after the ramifications of the ruling had ended.



In an ironic twist, Judge Paget was also the judge in the case of Iain Davis in 2004 which was successfully appealed.



He said it now appeared that defendants not only had the right to know who witnesses were, but also to be able to confront them in court.



Among trials which resulted in convictions recently after witnesses were offered anonymity were the shootings of schoolboy Michael Dosunmu, care worker Magda Pniewska and youth worker Nathan Foster.



Detectives from the Trident squad had boasted of their continuing success rate in tackling gun crime.



Witnesses were urged to come forward, assured that they would be protected with false names, screens and voice distortion.



But the Law Lords ruled that allowing anonymous witnesses in the Davis trial was against British justice.



He had been accused of shooting two people with one bullet which went through a wall at a New Year's party in Hackney, east London, in 2002.



Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner John Yates said at the weekend that the ruling was a cause for "grave concern".



He called for the Government to step in with emergency legislation.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
news
New Articles
tvChristmas special reviewed
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Sport
sport
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all