Trials without jury – serious criminal cases
Sections 44 to 49 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 make provision for non-jury trial in cases where there is danger of jury tampering or where jury tampering has taken place. Although these provisions came into force on 24 July 2006 they were not used until 2010.
The case in question involved four men accused of armed robbery from a warehouse at London Airport. There had already been an earlier trial which had been halted on the grounds that there had been jury tampering. The Crown Prosecution Service argued that any further trial would equally be threatened by jury tampering. The Court of Appeal agreed and allowed the trial to proceed without a jury.
Initial indications are that these powers are going to be used only very rarely; of course, the potential danger is that, having been used once, their use becomes more common. My own view is that trials without jury will remain very much the exception