Bar Council encourages creation of a 'required training programme' for cross examination of vulnerable witnesses

1 July 2013

The Bar Council, which represents barristers in England and Wales, encourages the creation and implementation of a 'required training programme' for all advocates dealing with vulnerable witnesses. This follows the All Party Parliamentary Group for Victims and Witnesses of Crime on Tuesday 25 June, where Javed Khan, Chief Executive, Victim Support, called for a formal system to be put in place to ensure that vulnerable victims are fully protected throughout the cross examination process.

Maura McGowan QC, Chairman of the Bar, said:

"The justice system always has to strike the difficult balance between protecting witnesses, particularly vulnerable ones, and ensuring that defendants receive a fair trial. It is a fundamental part of a barrister's training to achieve this balance and ensure cross examination is never gratuitous or aggressive. In the overwhelming majority of cases, this balance is struck.

"That said, we would support fully the implementation of a 'required training programme' to ensure that all barristers receive specialist training which equips them to deal with cases involving vulnerable witnesses. Further, we would be more than willing to contribute in any way possible to the creation of such a programme." 

ENDS

Notes to editors

1. The Advocacy Training Council is holding a roundtable discussion on Monday 15 July to talk about how vulnerable witnesses can be further protected. The Bar Council will be in attendance.

2. Further information is available from the Bar Council Press Office on 020 7222 2525.

3. 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.