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“Monday Message” – 09.05.23

The Coronation reaches back to 973 and Edgar, the great grandson of Alfred the Great. The order of service drew from even further back, from Roman times.

Historian Tom Holland described watching a coronation as the “constitutional equivalent of visiting a zoo and finding a Triceratops in one of the enclosures.”

The history is fabulously ancient.

As to the sovereignty of the people, Dicey wrote about Parliament:

That body is “politically” sovereign or supreme in a state the will of which is ultimately obeyed by the citizens of the state…the body in which sovereign power is vested.”

He concluded that:

The electorate is in fact the sovereign of England…..the process of representation is nothing less than a mode by which the representative body of the House of Commons is made to coincide with the will of the nation.”

The Jewelled Sword of Offerings placed in the King’s right hand by Penny Mordaunt MP, Lord President of the Council, was a symbol “not of judgement, but of justice; not of might but of mercy” and to be used, as recited by the Archbishop of Canterbury:

to help and defend widows and orphans, restore the things that are gone to decay, maintain the things that are restored, punish and reform what is amiss, and confirm what is in good order.”

All very straightforward.

Sexual Offences

On 27th April, the Home Office published its figures which showed that for the 12 months to the end of December 2023, the percentage of police reported allegations of sexual offences, reported to the police, resulting in criminal charges was 3.5% of which the charging rate for rape was 1.9%.

The charging rate had plummeted as low as 2.9% for sexual offences including just 1.3% for rape, for the twelve months ending to the end of March 2022, meaning one in 52 allegations of rape result currently in a charge, compared to one in 77 police reported rape complaints resulting in a charge this time last year.

However, the recent increase in charging rates needs to be put in the context of a decline of around 75% in the proportion of sexual offences charged and a decline of 80% for rape offence charging.

For the twelve months to the end of March 2015 the charging rate for police reported sexual offences, reported to the police, was 11.3% including a charging rate for rape of 8.3%.

In summary, one in twelve police reported allegations of rape resulted in a charge in 2015 compared to barely one in 50 today.

Once a charge is brought delays continue to be embedded.

The criminal justice system remains paralysed by underfunding and there are not enough barristers to prosecute and defend.

If the recent additional police, or the return to previous police numbers, result in additional cases being brought to court, they won’t result in trials for many years.

According to the latest Ministry of Justice figures, the average number of days from a rape charge being brought to a rape case completing in court rose to 370 days for cases completed between October and December 2022, up from 337 days for cases completed the previous quarter and representing nearly 50% longer than eight years ago.

The time taken from a rape charge being brought to the rape case completing in court was 252 days between April and June 2015. It fell as low as 210 days on average for a rape charge to complete at court between July and September 2019.

For the twelve months to December 2022, 34.6% of police reported sexual offences did not result in a charge due to the complainant no longer supported action. Looking at it with another figure; this applies to 79,789 cases.

This is not the fault of barristers.

However, we shoulder the shame and guilt as we are the ones who must explain to a complainant or a defendant that their trial will not go ahead for another one or two years.

The new Secretary of State for Justice, Alex Chalk KC needs to solidly grasp the urgency.

Defence Fees

The increase in fees since the end of September 2022 has resulted in expenditure of £11 million on AGFS to date.

The review to increase fees on section 28 hearings is being urged upon the Ministry of Justice, with the CBA’s response to the latest MoJ document, presented at the last CLAAB meeting, being compiled this week.


I attended the Bar Council’s Remuneration Committee and the Crown Court Improvement Group, to gather information and ensure that all are updated and cognisant of the issues affecting our membership.

Keep the communication coming by reporting issues faced at court.

I also attended HHJ Grieve KC’s valedictory at Southwark Crown Court.

It was a packed courtroom; a sign of how highly he is regarded and a reminder of how our reputations have a deep and lasting impact across the Criminal Bar.

Our weekly meetings continue, with the CBA officers and CBA YBC Chair. Thanks as always to the CBA officers, Tana Adkin KC, Mark Watson, James Oliveira- Agnew and James Gray who scramble to link in from across the country.

Podcast Series: Criminal Justice Matters

Please have a listen to our first episode: Strike Action

Episode One: Strike Action


Via Apple Podcasts

Our second episode has been recorded and focuses on the Junior Bar. It will be released shortly.

Thanks to Jennifer Devans- Temakloe and CBA YBC Chair Zayd Ahmed for taking part.

Our third episode focuses on RASSO cases.

Do let us know what you think of the series and send through any ideas of subjects you’d like to hear covered.

It is new and we are finding our way.

We hope that it will develop to be a source of interest and help to our members, as well as a point of explanation to the public.

National Zoom

It will be held on 6th June 2023.

Further details to follow.


Congratulations to those who received pupillage offers.

For those who didn’t, every year there are successful applicants after repeat attempts.

I know of many students in this position, and I have been contacted by some who have received multiple offers in this round of applications.

We all have been there.

I still remember the thud against my heart as I read the rejection letters.

Keep going and don’t hesitate to speak to others, including contacting us at the CBA, particularly our CBA YBC.

“Spring” Conference and Dinner 9th and 10th June 2023

We are fortunate to have Mrs Justice Yip DBE as our keynote speaker.

The rest of the day is filled with (the best) Judges, academics, and practitioners. They will take you through the latest developments in criminal law.

The dinner also will be a lovely evening; an opportunity to catch up with friends and colleagues and make new friends.

If you haven’t already booked, please book here.

The CBA officers,  members of the Executive and myself look forward to seeing you there!

Sentencing Guidelines

The Sentencing Council will publish sentencing guidelines for Animal Cruelty offences tomorrow, 10th May 2023.

Final Words

The judicial oath reflects the coronation oath of the monarch.

The judicial oath differentiates to “do right” from to apply “the laws and usages of this realm.”  Judges must do both at once, using natural law or human rights to interpret justly.

Prosecutors open their cases with the familiar words that they appear on behalf of the Crown. They commit to guaranteeing a fair trial for the defendant.

Defence barristers keep the standard to which conformity is demanded of law and process.

Criminal barristers continue to beat the drum of just justice.

It sounds through the centuries, through every oath made by monarch and judge, to the people of this jurisdiction.

We do not hold a ceremonial sword but hold lives in our hands every day.

This is worth the coronation weight in gold.

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