DPP attacks plans to curb right to trial by jury

The Director of Public Prosecutions, David Calvert-Smith has attacked the Government's plan to restrict a defendant's right to opt for trial by jury. Home Secretary Jack Straw's controversial proposals, expected to be included in the Queen's speech this week, have drawn fierce criticism from all sections of the legal profession.

And now the DPP has for the first time expressed reservations about the plan, even though he said, he understands the Government's argument that many defendants waste time by electing trial by jury and then pleading guilty.

“In this country all hold dear to trial by jury… it is in the Magna Carta and for a good reason,” he said in an interview with a national newspaper . “It is something of which we are rightfully proud and there are obvious advantages to having cases tried by people who vanish into obscurity following the trial.”

He said he had rarely met a juror who did not feel that being on a jury was a valuable part of their experience of being a citizen.