Bar Council responds to Home Secretary

11 February 2013

The Bar Council, which represents barristers in England and Wales, has responded to calls in the House of Commons this afternoon, from the Home Secretary, the Rt. Hon. Theresa May MP, to look carefully at any lessons which can be learned from the Brewer case.

Maura McGowan QC,Chairman of the Bar, said:

"The Bar Council is ready and willing to cooperate fully with the Home Secretary in any closer inspection of how the justice system operates following an allegation of sexual assault. We should ensure that every reasonable measure is taken to protect vulnerable witnesses and to encourage the victims of abuse to come forward. Defendants are presumed innocent, and evidence must be tested properly, so that juries may make informed decisions. But we must also do everything we can continually to improve the process and ensure that the balance is struck between the rights of witnesses and defendants.

"This particular case was deeply tragic and highly unusual. All the facts are not yet clear, but it is important to note that there was no suggestion that any advocates involved acted anything other than professionally." 

 ENDS

 Notes to editors:

1. Further information is available from the  Bar Council Press Office on 020 7222 2525 or Press@BarCouncil.org.uk.

2. The Bar Council represents barristers in England and Wales. It promotes:

• The Bar's high quality specialist advocacy and advisory services
• Fair access to justice for all
• The highest standards of ethics, equality and diversity across the profession, and
• The development of business opportunities for barristers at home and abroad.

The General Council of the Bar is the Approved Regulator of the Bar of England and Wales. It discharges its regulatory functions through the independent    Bar Standards Board.