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Monday 13 July 2020

'All we are asking is for the judiciary to follow government guidance'- FDA writes to the Lord Chief Justice

As the recognised union for prosecutors working in the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), the FDA has raised serious concerns with the Lord Chief Justice over the approach taken by some judges to applications from prosecutors to appear in court remotely.

The union has received deeply concerning reports from members working in the CPS about the attitude of some members of the judiciary, with reported conduct including asking for inappropriate personal details from advocates who are shielding, and suggesting prosecutors were 'working to rule' for applying to appear remotely.

In a letter to the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Burnett, the FDA has called for the Judicial Office to abide by government and civil service guidance and to make a statement making clear that cases requiring physical attendance remain the exception rather than the rule.

FDA National Officer Steven Littlewood said:

"The FDA believes the emphasis should be on justifying physical attendance where necessary rather than our members having to justify their remote attendance. Such an approach would be conducive to the interests of both justice and public health.

“Comments from some judges insinuating that prosecutors who wish to appear remotely are shirking or being difficult are extremely troubling.

"Our members have continued to work hard throughout this crisis and there is absolutely no reason to doubt their dedication now. All we are asking is for the judiciary to follow the government and civil service guidance.”

Notes for editors
1. The FDA is the union for senior managers and professionals in public service, representing more than 18,000 members at grades HEO and above. Membership includes senior civil servants, government policy advisors, prosecutors, diplomats, tax professionals, economists, solicitors and other professionals working across the Government and the NHS.

2. The FDA (formerly the First Division Association) should be referred to simply as "The FDA" and can be described as "the senior public servants' union".

3. The FDA can be found on Twitter @FDA_union and at www.fda.org.uk. General Secretary Dave Penman tweets as @FDAGenSec.

4. FDA National Officer Steven Littlewood's letter to the Lord Chief Justice can be viewed online here.

5. For more information contact:

FDA Communications Officer Tommy Newell on 07738 729 145 or tommy@fda.org.uk

FDA Communications Officer Scott Dobson on 07727 869 640 or scott@fda.org.uk

FDA Head of Communications Kay Hender on 07980 700 747 or kay@fda.org.uk
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