Peter Lilley, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, has attacked the Government?s
far-reaching proposals to reform the criminal justice system. Following the
publication of his pamphlet, ?Taking Liberties?, by a leading think tank
last week, Mr. Lilley challenged the Home Secretary in the House of Commons
to justify his plans to undermine the jury system.
Peter Lilley said:
“The Government?s White Paper amounts to a comprehensive assault on the jury
system and other long-established legal rights. It threatens four
fundamental pillars of freedom in this country – jury trial, double
jeopardy, presumption of innocence and habeas corpus. The net result will be
to make the British people more vulnerable than ever to arbitrary action by
“Last Wednesday I asked the Home Secretary whether the removal of jury trial
from serious fraud cases would result in a higher conviction rate, given
that the Serious Fraud Office achieved a 92% conviction rate over the last
four years. It seems that he will only be satisfied if every one who is
accused is found guilty!
“I argue in my new pamphlet, Taking Liberties, that we should enhance the
role of jury trial in the criminal justice system by widening participation
and introducing sensible reform. Court procedure should be modified to
assist the jury during a trial. There should also be a thorough review in
the way cases are prepared by the Crown Prosecution Service and the police.
It is here that government resources should be targeted if we are to be
serious about bringing more criminals to justice.
“I look forward to debating these points in detail when the Government
brings forward legislation in the autumn.”