05 April 2006

Old Bailey 1993 spy trial summing up

The Summing Up and final stage of the Michael John Smith spy trial in 1993, held at the Central Criminal Court (Old Bailey), has been published at the Cryptome website here.

As in many UK trials, the judge is allowed to be selective in drawing the jury’s attention to those points he believes the jury should consider when coming to their verdicts. There have been arguments about whether this is a fair way to conduct the final stage of a trial, as it is possible for a jury to pay more attention to the judge’s account of the evidence than what the actual witnesses may have said from the witness box. Mr Justice Blofeld did stress the importance of certain evidence, but in some cases completely omitted to mention other evidence.

There is always the danger that a summing up will sway the jury towards the opinions of the judge himself, rather than for the jury to make their own minds up from listening to the Prosecution and the Defence arguments. I believe in my case that Mr Justice Blofeld favoured the Prosecution case, and this is what comes across in his Summing Up.