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Straw man

The English ban on prosecutors talking to alleged rape victims, unknown elsewhere, is expected to disappear this year when prosecutors have been retrained. Director of public prosecutions Sir Ken MacDonald said: “This ban stems from the days when mostly private prosecutions were brought with bribed witnesses. It is the origin of the phrase ‘man of straw’: they used to stand outside court with straws in their shoes to signify their testimony could be bought.” To stop the practice, prosecutors were banned from speaking to witnesses outside the hearing itself. “In typical English fashion, this then lasted for ever.” [Guardian]


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 16th, 2008 02:15 pm (UTC)
Any ban on prosecutors talking to anybody can only date from 1986, as the Crown Prosecution Service didn't exist before then.

There is a rule that Counsel shouldn't interview witnesses, as that's the solicitor's job and Counsel is supposed to be independent and removed from the investigation.

There's also a rule that prosecuting lawyers don't participate in investigations, as that's the police's job. This is presumably what they're referring to.

The "man of straw" story is supposedly true, but they hung around Westminster Hall offering themselves as false witnesses in civil cases.

Ken MacDonald is a twat. I've met him.
Jan. 16th, 2008 02:54 pm (UTC)
They're light years ahead of us," he said.

I hope he meant to use "light years" appropriately, as a measurement of distance ("they're way out in front"), rather than as a measurement of time. Because I would have to hunt him down and kill him otherwise.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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