HC Deb 19 December 2002 vol 396 cc983-5W
Gareth Thomas

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the effect of interference with juries on the outcome of prosecutions in the Crown court in the last five years. [82004]

Mr. Blunkett

The requested information is available for all areas for 1999–2000, 2000–01 and 2001–02, although the figures for 2001–02 are, at this stage, provisional. The information is contained in the table.

Hilary Benn

[holding answer 28 November 2002]: The possibility of jury interference has always been a matter of concern, particularly but by no means exclusively, in the context of trials relating to organised crime. There are several important legal measures already in force, designed to deal with jury interference.

The Crown Prosecution Service does not maintain records of the number of cases in which jury interference takes place, but in the last five years there have been instances of actual or feared jury interference that have resulted both in pre-trial arrangements whereby jury protection is put in place and trials which have been terminated before a jury has been able to reach a verdict. There have also been instances when jury interference has come to light after the jury's verdict has been returned.

The Criminal Justice Bill now before Parliament makes provision for the trial to be conducted without a jury either, on the application of the prosecution where there is a danger of jury tampering or where the judge discharges the jury because of jury tampering. The Government take the view that these measures will be a further strong and effective disincentive to jury tampering.