Due to court backlogs made worse by the current barristers’ strikes, four murder suspects are scheduled to be freed from detention after their permitted period of imprisonment has passed.
The four defendants are accused of fatally stabbing a 40-year-old man outside his house in Banbury on February 13. Oxford’s most senior circuit judge, Justice Ian Pringle, declined to prolong the four defendants’ six-month detention term on Wednesday.
According to the Oxford Mail, the Criminal Bar Association (CBA) members’ prolonged strike action over Legal Aid fees has delayed the trial’s scheduled September 12 start date.
Prosecutors requested an extension of the four defendants’ time in jail as a consequence, claiming that the extraordinary delay brought on by the strike action was sufficient justification for their detention.
Judge Pringle, who rendered the decision, noted that the Crown Prosecution Service had used “all due attention and expedition” in preparing its application to extend the detention time restrictions, but she nevertheless dismissed the request.
This case was decided solely on “good and sufficient reason,” according to Judge Pringle.
Later today, a detailed decision outlining all of his reasons for rejecting the application is scheduled for publication.
According to the legislation, a court may prolong the maximum period of time for statutory custody only if they are persuaded that there are “good and adequate” grounds for doing so.
The maximum amount of time that someone may be imprisoned before going on trial is 182 days (about six months), although judges have the authority to extend this time limit.
There are growing concerns that more suspects may be freed after the six-month detention time restriction expires as a consequence of the CBA members’ ongoing strike action.
The Ministry of Justice and CBA began speaking on Wednesday in an effort to end the strike action, which is being driven by a dispute over the Government’s 15% increase in legal fees.
As the striking barristers met with politicians for the first time since the commencement of their industrial action, the new Justice Secretary Brandon Lewis encouraged them to get back to work.
Following his conversations, Mr. Lewis issued a short statement saying they had been “productive” and would go on.
When the CBA was protesting salary, his predecessor Dominic Raab had declined to meet with them.
The meeting was originally scheduled for last week but was postponed in light of the Queen’s passing.
All scheduled protests were also cancelled, although the all-out strike has lasted throughout the time of national mourning.
Criminal defence attorneys will start receiving the raise at the end of September, which will increase their annual salary by £7,000.
CBA members, who represent defendants who cannot afford legal counsel or access to the courts, are requesting an urgent 25% increase in legal aid rates.
It happens at a time when living expenses are skyrocketing and thousands of employees in a variety of sectors, including transportation, telecommunications, and the postal service, have staged walkouts out of frustration that their pay does not keep pace with growing inflation.
Judges make bail decisions independently of the government, according to a MoJ official.