Sandwell/Saunders trial descends into farce as council CEO flees cross-examination

The court case scheduled to begin today against blogger Julian Saunders, known locally as the ‘Sandwell Skidder‘, descended into farce today as proceedings were adjourned almost as soon as they began.

Mr Saunders has been charged with a public order offence for calling Sandwell Council’s chief executive Jan Britton a c*cksucker and has been representing himself. The abandonment of today’s hearing at Dudley magistrates’ court, which was announced only at the last moment, came about because the CPS objected to Britton – a strapping character of well over six feet – being cross-examined by Saunders in person.

Jan Britton, right, pictured with late Sandwell council leader Darren Cooper

The court had managed to lose the Crown Prosecution Service’s (CPS) application for this stricture until today, so Saunders was told as proceedings began that he would have to find representation by 21 November to conduct the cross-examination or lawyers will be appointed for him – and the case will resume in January.

The SKWAWKBOX wrote to Jan Britton to ask what worries him about facing direct cross-examination by Saunders in court and under oath. He has responded, but did not offer an explanation why the CPS would wish to prevent Saunders cross-examining him personally:

I have never said that I am unwilling to be cross-examined by Mr Saunders. I have sent no letter to the court. Your question should be re-directed to the Crown Prosecution Service.

I do not intend to comment any further on this matter.

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  1. Sexual orientation being a protected characteristic I wonder if the CPS might think that particular insult capable in some circumstances of being considered hate speech – and therefore treat all applications by accused persons to defend themselves as possibly intended to intimidate victims.
    Could a CPS policy directive meant to prevent such accused persons ‘outing’ gay persons in court be behind this?
    Just a guess.

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