§ Viscount Dilhorne
asked Her Majesty's Government:
What steps they are taking to ensure that the right of the Crown to stand by jurors in criminal proceedings is limited to exceptional circumstances, following the abolition of peremptory challenge.
§ The Lord Chancellor (Lord Mackay of Clashfern)
The enactment by Parliament of legislation abolishing the right of defendants in England and Wales to remove jurors by means of peremptory challenge makes it appropriate that the Crown in England and Wales should assert its own right to stand by only on the basis of clearly defined and restrictive criteria. During the Third Reading of the Criminal Justice Bill, my noble friend Lord Caithness undertook on behalf of my right honourable and learned friend the Attorney General, at col. 980 of theOfficial Report for 1st December 1987, that in future stand-by would be exercised in only two situations. These are, first, to remove a manifestly unsuitable juror, but only if the defence agree; secondly, to remove a juror in a terrorist or security case in which the Attorney General has authorised a check of the jury list, but only on the personal authority of the Attorney General.
Accordingly, there have today been placed in the Libraries of both Houses copies of guidelines on the exercise by the Crown of its right to stand by. The guidelines are to have effect from 5th January 1989 to coincide with the implementation of Section 118 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988, which abolishes the right of peremptory challenge.291WA
The Attorney General has also taken this opportunity to reissue his guidelines on jury checks, and copies of these have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses. These incorporate amendments made in 1986 together with a new amendment to paragraph 9 whereby the Attorney General's personal authority is required before the right to stand by can be exercised on the basis of information obtained as a result of an authorised check.