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New moves to protect vulnerable witnesses.

A SENIOR high court judge has welcomed new provisions, which come into effect today, to help protect vulnerable witnesses in court.

Mr Justice Richards, currently sitting at Mold Crown Court where he is conducting the ``teenage vampire'' murder trial, said that the new provisions were to be welcomed as a further step to protect vulnerable and intimidated people when giving evidence in court.

It would further promote the effective administration of justice, he said.

The Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act was intended to help vulnerable or intimidated witnesses to give evidence in criminal proceedings.

Various physical measures were planned to reduce the stress of giving evidence, including, where appropriate, the use of screens to shield witnesses from the defendant; the giving of evidence by means of a live television link and the use of pre-recorded videos to give evidence in chief.

That would be an extension of the arrangements already applied successfully in the crown court in relation to the evidence of children.

There would also be additional restrictions in crossexamining people by defendants who represented themselves.

``Although there is a phased implementation of some of these measures, today marks an important starting point,'' he said.

``One can expect to see early and significant use of the live television link in the crown courts.''

Mr Justice Richards said that he knew that the resident judge in Mold, Judge John Rogers QC, would have wished to draw the attention of court users to the new provisions if he had been present today.

``In his absence, I am pleased to perform that task myself,'' he said.
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jul 25, 2002
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