Scuffle of the week

Black lawyers are warning Home Secretary Jack Straw that one of his favourite reforms – the removal of trial by election – will further dent the confidence of black Britons in the legal system. Courtenay Griffiths QC says that "there is clear evidence that the black community will be disproportionately affected by the proposed changes". A recent study by Straw's department found that black defendants were twice as likely as whites to be jailed by magistrates. At present 45 per cent of Afro-Caribbean defendants opt for jury trial compared with less than a third of white defendants. Straw told The Lawyer last week that he was keen to get back to the "very best of what happened in the 1960s and 1970s". Maybe the next step is to bring back the infamous "suss law".