Chichester MP calls for answers over crown court ‘closure’

Local lawyers are still fighting to keep a crown and county court facility in Chichester
Local lawyers are still fighting to keep a crown and county court facility in Chichester

Andrew Tyrie is demanding an explanation over the crown court saga.

The Ministry of Justice has repeatedly insisted the court remains open and able to hear cases, despite no listings since March 17 and the building being locked.

In a letter calling for an explanation from the secretary of state for justice, the Chichester MP said: “Your Department has given repeated assurances – including in the House of Commons – that Chichester’s Combined Crown and county court would only close once suitable alternative local provision had been put in place.

“Facing the threat of judicial review, your department agreed in December to consider a proposal to keep some local capacity by rehousing the combined court in the former magistrates’ court building. The decision is still pending. “However, evidence has come to light to suggest that the closure of the crown court may already be underway.

Documents recently released by your department, in response to a Freedom of Information request, state that hearings would not be listed in the crown court beyond March 17, though the building would ‘remain capable of being used’.

“My office has been informed by Court Serve, one of the websites that provide court listings, that the crown court was ‘no longer providing court lists’ as of March 17.

“In addition, local media have reported that staff are stripping the Crown Court building of its contents.

I’d be very grateful for an explanation.”

As reported, the Government board which made the decision identified {http://www.chichester.co.uk/news/crime/significant-concerns-identified-prior-to-chichester-court-closure-1-7874843 |’significant concerns’ over closing Chichester’s Crown Court before a late U-turn saw it added to the list of court closures around the country.

If it does close for good it will leave the whole of West Sussex without a crown court.

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