witness

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Witness Anonymity
“Parliament should never legislate at the speed at which I am proposing unless it is convinced that there are overwhelming reasons for doing so, but I suggest to the House that this requirement is satisfied in this case. Anonymous evidence is these days fundamental to the successful prosecution of a significant number of cases, some of which involve murder, blackmail, violent disorder and terrorism. Such cases could be jeopardized if we do not quickly fill the gap created by their lordships’ judgment” . These are the words of Jack Straw who was the Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor. The House of Commons was discussing the Criminal Evidence (Witness Anonymity) Act 2008. These discussions were based on the ruling which had been passed in the case of R v Davis . There is a basic common law principle that an accused should be given a chance to confront his accuser whom he should always know .
Due to emergence of advanced crimes, there has been an increased use in necessary protection measures which have even gone outside the statutory scope in order to protect vulnerable witnesses. The introduction of witness protection has come with its challenges. Like in the case of R v Davis the contentious issue that arose was whether the introduction of witness protection would affect the defense and hence interfere with the rights of the accused. In the case their Lordships agreed that the defense had been curtailed and that the conviction was unsafe. This common law principle is only qualified with a few exceptions which are to be expressly stated in a statute. In reaction to the challenges that faced the R v Davis, parliament went ahead and enacted the Criminal Evidence (Witness Anonymity) Act 2008 and afte...

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...they may appear in court and fail to give their testimony.
The Section on witness anonymity will surely face various challenges. For the time being it will help to protect intimidated witnesses if properly used.

References
1) Hansard source: HL Deb, 26 June 2008, c1597 (http://www.theyworkforyou.com/lords/?gid=2008-06-26a.1597.3)
2) R v Davis [2008] 3 WLR 125, [2008] UKHL 36
3) Criminal Evidence (Witness Anonymity) Act 2008
4) Coroners and Justice Act 2009
5) European Convention on Human Rights
6) Pointer v Texas 380 US 400, 405 (1965)
7) Kirby v United States 174 US 47, 55 (1899
8) Smith v Illinois 390 US 129, 131 (1968)
9) Duke of Dorset v Girdler (1720) 24 ER 238
10) Coy v Iowa 487 US 1012, 1015 (1988)
11) Crawford v Washington 124 S Ct 1354, 1359 (2004)
12) Alford v United States 282 US 687 (1931
13) R v Hughes [1986] 2 NZLR 129
14) R v Hines [1997] 3 NZLR 529
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