The move follows several high-profile cases – such as that of the violinist Frances Andrade, who killed herself after giving evidence in court about historic indecent assaults – that have raised questions about how victims should be treated.
‘The move’ being…?
Vulnerable victims will be allowed to have their evidence and cross-examinations pre-recorded for court under a pilot scheme being launched by Chris Grayling, the justice secretary, on Tuesday.
Once again, a knee-jerk reaction kicked off in response to pressure groups and a handful of high-profile cases.
Rather than having to delay recalling horrific experiences until a trial takes place, thereby prolonging the trauma, those who have suffered serious attacks will be helped to put the memories behind them at an earlier stage.
But there’s that word there that everyone’s forgetting – ‘historic’. In the case of Andrade, the very measure they are promoting under her name wouldn’t have helped her case!
And she wasn’t the most stable of characters anyway.
The scheme is being tested in Leeds, Liverpool and Kingston-upon-Thames and will be expanded to other courts if it proves successful.
And it no doubt will – because the cases will be specially chosen to ensure it does indeed work.
Grayling said: “The particularly hostile treatment of victims and witnesses in court has nothing to do with fairness or justice. I am adamant we must put a stop to this, but without compromising everyone’s right to a fair trial.”
Good luck trying to square that circle, Grayling! Your ‘hostile treatment’ is my ‘robust defence’.
But how will the issue of fresh evidence, arising after the taping, be handled?
Oh, well, then it’s back to ‘business as usual’:
If fresh evidence emerges during a trial, however, victims could nonetheless be called back to answer questions. It is hoped that having given most of their evidence already, any second session would be less painful. Such practical problems will be assessed during the pilot scheme.
Pointless. Utterly pointless, and merely a sop to the usual identity group suspects…