West Law Report

Avoiding arrest of witnesses who fail to answer summons

Posted in Times Law Report by mrkooenglish on September 10, 2008

From The TimesSeptember 10, 2008

Avoiding arrest of witnesses who fail to answer summons
Court of Appeal, Criminal Division
Published September 10, 2008
Regina v Popat

It was preferable for crown court judges to direct police officers not to execute a warrant for the arrest except at the crown court, of a witness who had failed to appear in response to a summons, if satisfied that if the witness was going to attend voluntarily or was going to accompany them, or at least to back the warrant for bail.

The Court of Appeal, Criminal Division (Lord Justice Hughes, Mrs Justice Dobbs and Judge Pert, QC) so stated on July 28, 2007, when dismissing an appeal by Harish Popat against his conviction at Isleworth Crown Court (Judge Katkhuda) on March 3, 2008, for contempt of court, contrary to section 13 of the Administration of Justice Act 1960.

LORD JUSTICE HUGHES said that, rather than adopt the common practice of giving supplementary directions that a warrant for the arrest of a witness who had failed to attend court should only be executed at the crown court, in order to avoid the witness having to be locked up overnight or longer, crown court judges should consider directing police officers not to issue a warrant if satisfied the witness would attend voluntarily or if the witness accompanied them to court.

Backing the warrant for bail would be another form of humane exercise of the court’s jursidiction, to avoid the current difficulty of the warrant not being executed if the witness failed to attend the crown court.

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