NORTHERN IRELAND – NON-JURY TRIALS & OPERATION BANNER VETERANS – 5 July 2017
[The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Chloe Smith): … Non-jury trial provisions are available in exceptional circumstances in Northern Ireland, when a risk to the administration of justice is suspected – for example, jury tampering, whereby intimidation, violence or the threat of violence against members of a jury could result in a perverse conviction or acquittal. …]
Dr Julian Lewis: Just before the Minister concludes, can she tell us whether, in the very small number of cases that have gone before the non-jury courts, there is any evidence of appeals being put forward and indeed being successful in part as a result of the way in which they were tried in the first place?
[Chloe Smith: There are indeed ways to challenge these certificates; legal challenges have been made. I will not go into them in great deal here because they are on record and available for Members to look at. However, I will draw out one interesting point from one of the pieces of case law: it is noted that not to have a jury trial is not the same as not to have fair trial. That is a crucial piece of reassurance for Members here today who may be thinking deeply about the measure for which I am asking their support.]
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Dr Lewis: This is an appropriate point, is it not, to show our appreciation for the work of our Armed Forces, without whose courage we would never have had a political settlement, and to express our concern that former service personnel still face the possibility of trial for matters arising out of the troubles when terrorist murderers are able to walk free.
[Chloe Smith: My right hon. Friend will be well aware that, at this point, I am not able to deal fully with the issues he raises, except to say in brief that we would all wish to have a way of dealing with legacy issues in Northern Ireland that is fair, balanced and proportionate. We will have to return to those more fully at a later time.]