Starmer: Stop barristers grilling vulnerable witnesses

Sir Keir Starmer, former chief prosecutor and now Labour's advisor on victims' issues, has suggested judges should cross-examine vulnerable witnesses to prevent them from being caught between "fierce" prosecution and defence attacks.

Judges 'could cross-examine vulnerable witnesses'

Former chief prosecutor and now Labour's advisor on victims' issues Sir Keir Starmer wrote in the Guardian has proposed that judges cross-examine vulnerable witnesses to stop them being caught-up in the "fierce" attack between defence and prosecution.

The idea that if the prosecution and defence attack each other as fiercely as possible the truth will somehow pop out has its attractions, but for particularly young and vulnerable witnesses there are obvious downsides.

Without casting around the world for the elusive perfect criminal justice system, the taskforce will consider the extent to which it might be possible to blend the adversarial and inquisitorial systems.

Perhaps judges should be given the task of questioning young and vulnerable witnesses?

New 'victims' law being considered by Labour

Labour will consider whether prosecutors should be allowed to question young and vulnerable victims in court as part of their plans for a shake-up of the justice system.

Former chief prosecutor Keir Starmer. Credit: Lewis Whyld/PA Wire

Former chief prosecutor and now Labour's advisor on victims' issues Sir Keir Starmer suggested judges could be given the task of cross-examining witnesses to stop them being caught between "fierce" prosecution and defence attacks.

Labour's newly launched Victims' Taskforce has set out a number of options to give vulnerable witnesses greater protection in court and the group will today meet victims to discuss possible changes to the law - should it win the next election.

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