Criminal courts face radical overhaul

Every aspect, from wigs to Latin names and from magistrates' roles to judges' working practices is to be examined and revamped in a bid to speed up justice in the criminal courts.

Barristers who take too long cross-examining witnesses will be curbed, and Lord Irvine said he wants to move away from the “no blame culture” which exists between the CPS, police and defence lawyers.

The sweeping review comes hot on the heels of a damning report from the National Audit Office which concluded that £85 million a year is being wasted under the current system.

It is to be carried out by senior Court of Appeal judge, Lord Justice Auld who must come up with ways of cutting delays and inefficiencies by the December 2000 deadline.