Prosecutions: Coronavirus

Ministry of Justice written question – answered at on 10 September 2021.

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Photo of Caroline Lucas Caroline Lucas Green, Brighton, Pavilion

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what recent assessment he has made of compatibility of the Single Justice Procedure in respect of prosecutions under covid-19 related legislation and the right to fair trial principles.

Photo of Chris Philp Chris Philp The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department

A case dealt with under the Single Justice Procedure is dealt with in the same way as any other case, except that a single magistrate can deal with it (rather than two) and the hearing need not be in public. The magistrate must comply with the same legislative safeguards as all other proceedings, and the Sentencing Council Sentencing Guidelines apply in the same way.

The Single Justice Procedure is a quicker and more straightforward procedure, and there are a number of further safeguards built into the process to ensure a defendant’s right to a fair trial is protected. A defendant must agree to this procedure being used and they have the option to opt out of the Single Justice Procedure and have their case heard in open court, at any time before sentencing. A magistrate can also refer a case to open court if they deem it would not be appropriately dealt with using the procedure. Furthermore, if a defendant was unaware of the proceedings, they are entitled to make a statutory declaration which revokes the conviction and recommences the proceedings.

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