Criminal Justice Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:45 pm on 30th October 2003.

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Photo of Lord Thomas of Gresford Lord Thomas of Gresford Liberal Democrat 4:45 pm, 30th October 2003

My Lords, I spoke on this principle in Committee, and support the view expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Kingsland, on Report. One of the matters that concerns the Government is the long trial—the ruling of no case to answer at the end of six or nine months of a long trial. It then appears that a lot of money has been wasted. That sort of thing makes newspaper headlines and leads to criticisms of the system. In precisely that sort of case, it would be virtually impossible for the Court of Appeal to second-guess the view of the trial judge. That judge has sat through all the proceedings, heard the evidence, is familiar with the schedules and exhibits and the circumstances of the case, and the prosecution have failed to satisfy him that there is sufficient evidence to go to a jury. How a Court of Appeal could then sit down for weeks and weeks, read through the same material and transcripts of the evidence and come to a different conclusion baffles me.

If the main problem—the ruling at the end of a long prosecution case—cannot be resolved in that way, it is wrong in principle to extend it to the shorter case when perhaps the Court of Appeal could have a better grasp of the issues.