Thank you for writing to me about coronavirus and jury trials. I have read your email carefully and noted the key points that you raise.
The British legal system is respected around the world and I will always try to play my small part as an MP to help ensure it stays that way. I am sure you will appreciate that the Coronavirus outbreak has been an unprecedented challenge for the criminal justice system. However, the Government has shown determination in ensuring that justice has been delivered throughout the outbreak, and it is committed to maintaining the fairness and integrity of our legal system.
I fully understand your concerns as social distancing and public health measures have meant that jury trials were paused. It is vital to remember that despite this, courts did not stop. Across all jurisdictions, 159 courts remained fully open to the public. The Government has also made good use of technology. I understand that the Cloud Video Platform has been operational in over 100 courts, 90 police custody suits and 30 prisons. It is good news that this is being rolled out further and has allowed 6,000 hearings to be conducted on the platform.
On your specific point regarding jury trials, these have now resumed, and I thank HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) for working hard to make this happen. I understand that HMCTS are now pushing forward an ambitious plan to continue to increase capacity. One of the Government’s key aims is to protect the public and, in line with this, urgent cases such as domestic violence and overnight custody cases have been prioritised.
For more information please see: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/hm-courts-and-tribunals-service
I will continue to follow developments in this area, as we all want to ensure that the Government and the whole judicial system continues press ahead with appropriate, fair and, wherever possible, the timely delivery of justice. I do share your instinct and view that trial by jury is a hugely important part of our system. I agree and welcome the fact that it is a fundamental aspect, indeed a cornerstone, of our current justice and courts system. However, I will also do my best to try to keep an open mind re. all thoughtful debates and discussions about how we might improve our justice system, or aspects of it, going forward.
Thank you again for writing to me.
With best wishes.
Jonathan Lord MP
Member of Parliament for Woking