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Former DPP calls for greater study of jurors' deliberations

Former Director of Public Prosecutions Lord Macdonald has called for further research into the jury system and greater study of jurors' deliberations. The comments made to the BBC come following the discharge of the jury in the first trial of Vicky Pryce, wife of former minister Chris Huhne. The jury were unable to reach a majority verdict in the case. A re-trial is underway. A number of questions were asked by the jury including, ˜Can a juror come to a verdict based on a reason that was not presented in court and has no facts or evidence to support it, either from the prosecution or the defence? The judge trying the case, Mr Justice sweeney, said the questions demonstrated ˜absolutely fundamental deficits in understanding'.

Lord Macdonald told BBC Radio 4s Today programme ˜We perhaps ought to allow a bit more access to jury reasoning than we do. I think it is impossible for researchers to conduct any kind of examination at any time into what has gone on in jury rooms.

A number of other senior lawyers have suggested that the rules regarding jury research should be relaxed.  At the present time it is a criminal offence to make enquiries of jurors in relation to their deliberations.

Commenting on the hung jury in the first Pryce trial Lord Woolf, the former Lord Chief Justice, said he believed the jury system was ˜well tried and that the Pryce case was ˜exceptional.


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