High-profile cases to return to Huntingdon’s courthouse

Huntingdon Crown Court

Huntingdon Crown Court - Credit: Archant

Huntingdon Law Courts will once again hear crown court cases, according to a statement issued last week from the HM Courts and Tribunals Service.

HM Courts was not prepared to comment further on whether it was a permanent arrangement, however, The Hunts Post understands the move is temporary, designed to deal with a backlog of cases at other crown courts.

The £13million building in Walden Road, which opened in 2007, will deal with the “full range of crown court work” taking cases from both Peterborough and Cambridge crown courts.

“HM Courts and Tribunals Service continues to keep the use of its estate under review to ensure it meets operational requirements,” said a spokesman from HM Courts.

“The crown courtrooms within Huntingdon Law Courts have always been available to hear cases if the workload required it. From May until further notice it will resume sittings.”

In March 2013, an announcement was made to move serious crimes to a modified room at Peterborough Magistrates’ Court.

Huntingdon Law Courts retained its magistrates’ court and expanded facilities at Huntingdon to deal with more employment tribunals, but always with the proviso that it could resume crown court work, if needed.

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Peter Vialls, senior partner at Wilkinson and Butler Solicitors in St Neots, said it was his understanding that the move back to Huntingdon was a temporary one, but he welcomed the decision.

“We are delighted that our local court will be hearing the full range of cases again,” he said. “Local justice has benefits for lots of people, not just the defendants, but also witnesses and all those involved in the delivery of justice.”

Mr Vialls said he could not comment on the impact that the move to Peterborough may have had on defendants and the administration of justice as his firm, and others in the area, were dealing with less criminal cases due to changes in the system.

“We are just not doing as much crown court work due to cuts in the Legal Aid system which has limited what we are able to do,” he said.

The Legal Aid budget was cut in 2014, amid much criticism in the legal profession.

In December 2010, the Coalition government announced its programme of cost-saving measures, which included the closure of 93 magistrates’ courts and 49 county courts.