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Judge and jury

Could the English jury become the next victim of a Belgian political assassin? Richard Easton and David Rhodes hold court

24 January 2011

While giving evidence about his alleged imprisonment of a jury, Lord Chief Justice Keeling famously told the House of Commons: “Magna Farta? What ado with this have we?”

That was in 1667. Nearly 350 years later, the second section of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) appeared to second Lord Chief Justice Keeling’s dismissal of the right to trial by jury.

A jury gives no reason for its verdict, therefore the jury violates an individual’s right to a fair trial enshrined in article 6 – that’s how the argument went on 13 January 2009 in Taxquet v Belgium (application no 926/50). By 16 November 2010 this blast against juries had become a mere grumble when the ECtHR’s grand chamber handed down its final decision in Taxquet. But the case might still prove troublesome to the English jury.

The case involved the appeal of Belgian political assassin Richard Taxquet, who complained that his trial before Lieges Assize Court violated article 6(...

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