Bar Council: We must achieve correct balance in handling vulnerable witnesses and maintain a fair and high quality system

11 June 2013

The Bar Council, which represents barristers in England and Wales, has today voiced its support for any measures which make court proceedings less traumatic for vulnerable witnesses providing that a fair trial is ensured for the defendant. 

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 to ensure that cross-examination is never gratuitous. In the overwhelming majority of cases, this balance is struck. 

"That said, we support any attempts to reduce the stress of the experience for witnesses. However, proper measures need to be put in place to ensure that all the information is available at the earliest possible instance to avoid recalling witnesses." 


Notes to Editors

For further information, please contact the  Bar Council Press Office on 020 7222 2525 or

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.