First trial without jury given the go-ahead in the UK

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Thursday, June 18, 2009


The Scales of Justice at the Old Bailey
Image: Erasoft24.
(Image missing from Commons: image; log)

The Lord Chief Justice, Sir Igor Judge, together with two other judges, today ruled that a trial could be heard by a judge alone. This makes legal history in England and Wales, being the first time the power has been used in the United Kingdom since its introduction in 2003.

Four men are accused of taking part in an armed robbery at Heathrow Airport in 2004. Lord Judge said "the danger of jury tampering and the subversion of the process of trial by jury is very significant". The trial "will take place without a jury in due course". Media restrictions prevent identification of the defendants.

Reports suggest that three previous trials have collapsed due to interference with jurors, hence the landmark decision.