Cross-examination trauma inquiry

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An investigation into aggressive courtroom cross-examination of vulnerable victims is being launched in the wake of high profile child sex cases, Justice Minister Damian Green confirmed.

He said work would be carried out over the summer to find ways to curb hostile practices after a growing number of cases where witnesses were left “deeply traumatised”.

Mr Green raised concerns about the treatment of victims in the recent trial of a gang who ran a child prostitution ring in Telford, Shropshire, where one girl – who had been sold to men across England since the age of 13 – was aggressively cross-examined for 12 days by seven different defence barristers.

He said the review would consider whether barristers should only be allowed to bring up new points, as well as fresh guidance for judges in how to deal with such cases.

Mr Green said: “It wouldn’t be right to ignore the concerns of vulnerable victims forced to relive the most horrific experience they have ever had, often for days on end, when cross-examined in court.

“The growing number of cases where victims report being left deeply traumatised by aggressive cross-examination from multiple defence barristers mean that questions must be asked.

“I have ordered an investigation into how we might reduce the distress caused to victims without compromising the fundamental right to a fair trial.”

Javed Khan, chief executive of Victim Support, said it had 
long called for a re-balancing 
of a justice system that too often overlooked the needs of the 
victim.