The Ministry of Justice announced a pilot scheme which would allow for recorded pre-trial cross-examination of vulnerable and intimidated witnesses in certain cases. This is an attempt to facilitate implementation of section 28 of the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999. The scheme will be trialled in Crown Courts in Leeds, Liverpool and Kingston-Upon-Thames for six months, followed by an assessment period. The Legal Aid Agency has published guidance for advocates instructed in s 28 pilot cases.

A woman who wants to keep her dead husband’s frozen sperm from being destroyed lodged a case against the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority at the High Court. The claimant was originally told her late husband’s consent to store and use his sperm posthumously expired in April 2013, but was subsequently granted two brief extensions meaning the sperm has to be used before April 2015. She is arguing that there are a number of inconsistencies in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology (Appeals) Regulations 2009. The claimant said:

“I understand that it’s a huge decision to have a child who will never meet their father,”

“I cannot make that choice now and need more time to build my life back. I may never go ahead with treatment but I want to have the freedom to decide once I am no longer grieving.”

The Attorney General announced on Twitter that guidance notes will be published to help prevent social media users from committing a contempt of court. Dominic Grieve QC MP explained:

“In days gone by, it was only the mainstream media that had the opportunity to bring information relating to a court case to such a large group of people that it could put a court case at risk. That is no longer the case, and is why I have decided to publish the advisories that I have previously only issued to the media.”

Newcastle Crown Court was evacuated after the River Tyne burst its banks in yesterday’s storms, engulfing the court building. The places in England worst affected in the severe weather were Northumberland, North Tyneside and the Newcastle Quayside.