June 16, 2022 10.54 am

Fatal crash trial delayed due to barrister protest

The criminal bar association insist it is not strike action

The trial of a motorist accused of causing a fatal collision near Alford, in which a cyclist died, has been put back until July because of protest action by crown court barristers.

Dean Holderness has pleaded not guilty to causing the death by dangerous driving of Stuart Lees on the A1104 at Snape Hill near Alford on March 23, 2020.

Holderness, 35, of Marston Crescent, New Lodge, Barnsley, was due go on trial at Lincoln Crown Court on June 20.

However his trial can not go ahead because of the “no returns” action where barristers have agreed not to accept cases that are returned by colleagues who have a diary clash.

A pre-trial hearing at Lincoln Crown Court was told the defence barrister representing Holderness was no longer available in the week beginning 20 June due to a trial at Nottingham Crown Court which has over-run.

His trial will now be heard in the week beginning July 11 at Lincoln Crown Court and is expected to last three days.

Judge Catarina Sjolin Knight granted Holderness unconditional bail until his trial and explained: “Your trial can not go ahead as your barrister is unavailable.

“It is not his fault, but we have found a new date later in the year, about a month later.”

A number of other cases at Lincoln Crown Court have been impacted by the “no returns” action which is nationwide.

It results from a recent ballot in which 94% of Criminal Bar Association (CBA) members voted to no longer accept return work, though they will continue to attend court and accept cases of their own.

The action – which the Criminal Bar Association stresses is not a ‘strike’ – is in response to the Ministry of Justice’s response to the recommendations of a government-commissioned criminal legal aid review.

In February, criminal barristers voted overwhelmingly in favour of adopting ‘no returns’ should the government refuse to increase criminal legal aid advocacy fees by 25%.

The government’s package of criminal legal aid reform proposes a maximum 15% uplift, which would not come into force for months.