UK Will Allow Anonymous Witnesses in Some Court Cases
June 25th, 2008
Anonymous witnesses. Anonymous evidence. Double plus good.
The government has vowed to change the law to allow anonymous witnesses in some court cases after a key Law Lords ruling effectively halted the practice.
Justice Secretary Jack Straw said there was a real need for some witnesses to have their identities protected.
Mr Straw told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the law will be changed “as quickly as possible”.
The ruling quashed the murder conviction of a man who was convicted with the aid of anonymous evidence.
Police have warned that serious criminals could walk free as a result.
“I am looking at this very urgently indeed,” Mr Straw said of the ruling, which applies to criminal cases in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
He said the reality of violence and intimidation in some criminal circles means accommodations must be made within the rules of evidence.
Mr Straw signalled that planned government legislation to enshrine the use of anonymous witnesses where intimidation is a risk would now become a priority.