Cases of jury tampering soar

Sophie Goodchild,Home Affairs Correspondent
Sunday 29 December 2002 01:00

Police forces are having to spend millions of pounds a year protecting jurors from threats and bribes as cases of jury tampering soar.

The Metropolitan police alone has been paying out an average of £4.5m a year on protecting juries, especially those sitting in criminal cases at the Old Bailey.

The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) said other forces hadproblems with "nobbled" juries, in which members were offered bribes or made to feel they were obliged to deliver a "not guilty" verdict.

Last month, Ian Blair, deputy commissioner of the Met, told members of the Home Affairs select committee that jury tampering was a "major problem".

"Most of the time there will be a protected jury [sitting] somewhere in London, usually at the Bailey," he said. He told MPs that jury tampering was also usually connected with organised crime.

There have also been complaints of jury tampering during high-profile cases. These include two jurors in the case of Tony Martin, the farmer jailed for the manslaughter of a burglar, Fred Barras.

In letters to the Court of Appeal, the pair said they felt intimidated by friends of Barras and "generally afraid" during the trial. Jurors were also given protection during the trial of Nicholas van Hoogstraten, the property tycoon jailed for arranging the killing of a business associate.

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