Friday, 22 February 2013

By Elections, Eastleigh and an attack on jury trials

Today I am off for 2 days campaigning in the Eastleigh parliamentary by election. Mid term is always an interesting time for such an assessment by voters in a single constituency on a government's performance and I will report back on what I find over the weekend. This is made doubly more interesting by the fact that it is a Coalition fight in a Liberal seat. I did not know Chris Huhne aside from a couple of meetings when he was Energy Minister, but his demise is a genuine tragedy, as he clearly had great intellect and ability, whatever his indiscretions nearly 10 years ago. The papers today are full of criticism of the jury system but I would beg to disagree. The questions posed by the jury in the Vicky Pryce trial are not actually that unremarkable in my experience of over 100 such Crown Court trials. Often such questions are by one or two persons out of 12 who need assistance.
Questions like: "can you define what is reasonable doubt?" were often raised in my experience.
The reality is that the Crown failed to explain and prove its case to satisfy a 10 person majority out of 12 randomly selected people. The jury system is a good one and we should keep it.