Vulnerable witnesses to pre-record testimony to avoid trauma in court
Move follows death of Frances Andrade who killed herself after testifying against former music teacher Michael Brewer
As a leading charity warned that it was only a matter of time before a child witness kills themselves after the trauma of giving evidence, Justice Secretary Chris Grayling announced moves to spare them from harrowing court cases.
Children and vulnerable adults will be able to pre-record both their evidence and the cross-examination in a series of pilot projects due to start later this year.
The move will not come too soon for charities that have long complained that frightened victims or witnesses were being put through additional trauma by distressing and intimidating court experiences.
Yesterday Victim Support chief executive Javed Khan said: "We've all heard stories of children - many of them victims of horrific sex crimes - being thrown to the wolves in court and it needs to stop.”
"Are we really waiting for a child witness to kill themselves before we accept that the adversarial culture of our courtrooms is wrong?,” added Mr Khan, who said he remained haunted by the plight of Frances Andrade.
The 48-year-old killed herself days after testifying against former music teacher Michael Brewer, who was later found guilty of five counts of indecent assault. She told a friend that she felt “raped all over again” after being cross-examined over allegations that he indecently assaulted her as a youngster.
Yesterday the Ministry of Justice said that all children as well as vulnerable adults, such as victims of particularly harrowing crimes and those with mental health problems or special needs, would be eligible for the six-month pilot schemes being run in Leeds, Liverpool and Kingston-upon-Thames with the intention of rolling it out more widely if it proves a success. Their interviews will be pre-recorded before the case with barristers and the judge speaking via live-link in a separate room.
Although there are provisions for children and some adults to give evidence from behind a screen or via video link with the help of Special Registered Intermediaries, the MoJ acknowledged yesterday that the measures did not go far enough.
“The particularly hostile treatment of victims and witnesses in court has nothing to do with fairness or justice,” Mr Grayling said.
“It is simply not right that young and vulnerable victims are forced to relive the most traumatic experience they have ever had, often for days on end, when cross-examined in court. I am adamant we must put a stop to this, but without compromising everyone’s right to a fair trial.”
- 1 Raif Badawi, the Saudi Arabian blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes, may now face death penalty
- 2 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
- 3 Dakota Johnson's 'It's only Isis' Saturday Night Live sketch sparks controversy
- 4 Robert Mugabe eats a zoo for 'obscene' 91st birthday party
- 5 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how Corporation is funded
Raif Badawi, the Saudi Arabian blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes, may now face death penalty
Someone has actually got a tattoo of that dress
PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
White and gold or blue and black – what colour is the dress? An eyewitness gives a definitive answer
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Russia's roadmap for annexing eastern Ukraine 'leaked from Vladimir Putin's office'
Ukraine crisis: Top Chinese diplomat backs Putin and says West should 'abandon zero-sum mentality'
£15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Advisor is r...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This well established construction equipment d...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitm...
£7 - £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This high quality thread manufacturer ba...