Straw should turn again

There are moral reasons why Jack Straw's U-turn – on abolishing the right to trial by jury – is wrong. It is a fundamental safeguard in the criminal justice system. Without it, innocent people could be convicted of crimes they did not commit.

There are certain fundamental principles that need to be be preserved not only for the good of society but also for the good of the profession. It is true that criminal lawyers may lose out on cases in a fast-track system, but the profession also needs to be concerned that some sections of society do not trust the magistrates courts, one of the foundations of the legal system.

Straw needs to ensure that people, particularly those from ethnic minorities, have faith in the magistrates system before he denies them an alternative.