|Central Criminal Court of England and Wales|
The Old Bailey in 2004
|Jurisdiction||England and Wales|
|Recorder of London|
|Since||6 January 2015|
The Central Criminal Court of England and Wales (commonly called the Old Bailey, after the street on which it stands) is a court in London and one of a number of buildings housing the Crown Court. Part of the present building stands on the site of the medieval Newgate gaol, on a road named Old Bailey that follows the line of the City of London's fortified wall (or bailey ), which runs from Ludgate Hill to the junction of Newgate Street and Holborn Viaduct. The Old Bailey has been housed in several structures near this location since the sixteenth century, and its present building dates from 1902, designed by Edward William Mountford.
England and Wales is a legal jurisdiction covering England and Wales, two of the four constituent countries of the United Kingdom. ’England and Wales’ forms the constitutional successor to the former Kingdom of England and follows a single legal system, known as English law.
A court is any person or institution with authority to judge or adjudicate, often as a government institution, with the authority to adjudicate legal disputes between parties and carry out the administration of justice in civil, criminal, and administrative matters in accordance with the rule of law. In both common law and civil law legal systems, courts are the central means for dispute resolution, and it is generally understood that all people have an ability to bring their claims before a court. Similarly, the rights of those accused of a crime include the right to present a defense before a court.
The Crown Court of England and Wales is, together with the High Court of Justice and the Court of Appeal, one of the constituent parts of the Senior Courts of England and Wales. It is the highest court of first instance in criminal cases; however, for some purposes the Crown Court is hierarchically subordinate to the High Court and its Divisional Courts.
The Crown Court sitting at the Central Criminal Court deals with major criminal cases from within Greater London and in exceptional cases, from other parts of England and Wales. Trials at the Old Bailey, as at other courts, are open to the public; however, they are subject to stringent security procedures.
Greater London is a ceremonial county of England that forms the London region. This region forms the administrative boundaries of London and is organised into 33 local government districts—the 32 London boroughs and the City of London, which is located within the region but is separate from the county. The Greater London Authority, based in Southwark, is responsible for strategic local government across the region and consists of the Mayor of London and the London Assembly. The City of London Corporation is the principal local authority for the City of London, with a similar role to that of the 32 London borough councils.
The court originated as the sessions house of the Lord Mayor and Sheriffs of the City of London and of Middlesex. The original medieval court was first mentioned in 1585; it was next to the older Newgate Prison, and seems to have grown out of the endowment to improve the gaol and rooms for the sheriffs, made possible by a gift from Richard Whittington. It was destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666 and rebuilt in 1674, with the court open to the weather to prevent the spread of disease.
The Lord Mayor of London is the City's mayor and the leader of the City of London Corporation. Within the City of London, the Lord Mayor is accorded precedence over all individuals except the sovereign and retains various traditional powers, rights and privileges, including the title and style The Right Honourable Lord Mayor of London.
Two sheriffs are elected annually for the City of London by the Liverymen of the City Livery Companies. Today's sheriffs have only nominal duties, but the historical officeholders had important judicial responsibilities. They have attended the Justices at the Central Criminal Court, Old Bailey, since its original role as the Court for the City and Middlesex.
Middlesex is a historic county in southeast England. Its area is now almost entirely within the wider urbanised area of London. Its area is now also mostly within the ceremonial county of Greater London, with small sections in other neighbouring ceremonial counties. It was established in the Anglo-Saxon system from the territory of the Middle Saxons, and existed as an official administrative unit until 1965. The county is bounded to the south by the River Thames, and includes the rivers Colne and Lea and a ridge of hills as the other boundaries. The largely low-lying county, dominated by clay in its north and alluvium on gravel in its south, is the second smallest by area of England's historic counties, after Rutland.
In 1734, it was refronted, enclosing the court and reducing the influence of spectators: this led to outbreaks of typhus, notably in 1750 when 60 people died, including the Lord Mayor and two judges. It was rebuilt again in 1774 and a second courtroom was added in 1824. Over 100,000 criminal trials were carried out at the Old Bailey between 1674 and 1834.
Typhus, also known as typhus fever, is a group of infectious diseases that include epidemic typhus, scrub typhus, and murine typhus. Common symptoms include fever, headache, and a rash. Typically these begin one to two weeks after exposure.
In 1834, it was renamed as the Central Criminal Court and its jurisdiction extended beyond that of London and Middlesex to the whole of the English jurisdiction for trials of major cases. Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service manages the courts and administers the trials but the building itself is owned by the City of London Corporation, which finances the building, the running of it, the staff and the maintenance out of their own resources.
Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service is an executive agency of the Ministry of Justice. It was created on 1 April 2011 by the merger of Her Majesty's Courts Service and the Tribunals Service.
The City of London Corporation, officially and legally the Mayor and Commonalty and Citizens of the City of London, is the municipal governing body of the City of London, the historic centre of London and the location of much of the United Kingdom's financial sector.
The court was originally intended as the site where only criminals accused of crimes committed in the City and Middlesex were tried. However, in 1856, there was public revulsion at the accusations against the doctor William Palmer that he was a poisoner and murderer. This led to fears that he could not receive a fair trial in his native Staffordshire. The Central Criminal Court Act 1856 was passed to enable his trial to be held at the Old Bailey.
William Palmer, also known as the Rugeley Poisoner or the Prince of Poisoners, was an English doctor found guilty of murder in one of the most notorious cases of the 19th century. Charles Dickens called Palmer "the greatest villain that ever stood in the Old Bailey".
Staffordshire is a landlocked county in the West Midlands of England. It borders with Cheshire to the northwest, Derbyshire and Leicestershire to the east, Warwickshire to the southeast, West Midlands and Worcestershire to the south, and Shropshire to the west.
The Central Criminal Court Act 1856, originally known as the Trial of Offences Act 1856 and popularly known as Palmer's Act, was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. The Act allowed a crime committed outside the City of London or the County of Middlesex to be tried at the Central Criminal Court, the Old Bailey, rather than locally.
In the 19th century, the Old Bailey was a courtroom adjacent to Newgate Prison. Hangings were a public spectacle in the street outside until May 1868. The condemned would be led along Dead Man's Walk between the prison and the court, and many were buried in the walk itself. Large, riotous crowds would gather and pelt the condemned with rotten fruit and vegetables and stones.In 1807, 28 people were crushed to death after a pie-seller's stall overturned. A secret tunnel was subsequently created between the prison and St Sepulchre's church opposite, to allow the chaplain to minister to the condemned man without having to force his way through the crowds.
The present Old Bailey building dates from 1902 but it was officially opened on 27 February 1907. It was designed by E. W. Mountford and built on the site of the infamous Newgate Prison, which was demolished to allow the court buildings to be constructed. Above the main entrance is inscribed the admonition: "Defend the Children of the Poor & Punish the Wrongdoer". King Edward VII opened the courthouse.
On the dome above the court stands a bronze statue of Lady Justice, executed by the British sculptor F. W. Pomeroy. She holds a sword in her right hand and the scales of justice in her left. The statue is popularly supposed to show blind Justice, but the figure is not blindfolded: the courthouse brochures explain that this is because Lady Justice was originally not blindfolded, and because her "maidenly form" is supposed to guarantee her impartiality which renders the blindfold redundant.
During the Blitz of World War II, the Old Bailey was bombed and severely damaged, but subsequent reconstruction work restored most of it in the early 1950s. In 1952, the restored interior of the Grand Hall of the Central Criminal Court was once again open. The interior of the Great Hall (underneath the dome) is decorated with paintings commemorating the Blitz, as well as quasi-historical scenes of St Paul's Cathedral with nobles outside. Running around the entire hall are a series of axioms, some of biblical reference. They read:
"The law of the wise is a fountain of life"
"The welfare of the people is supreme"
"Right lives by law and law subsists by power"
"Poise the cause in justice's equal scales"
"Moses gave unto the people the laws of God"
"London shall have all its ancient rights"
The Great Hall (and the floor beneath it) is also decorated with many busts and statues, chiefly of British monarchs, but also of legal figures, and those who achieved renown by campaigning for improvement in prison conditions in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. This part of the building also houses the shorthand-writers' offices.
The lower level also hosts a minor exhibition on the history of the Old Bailey and Newgate featuring historical prison artefacts.
In 1973, the Belfast Brigade of the Provisional IRA exploded a car bomb in the street outside the courts, killing one and injuring 200 people. A shard of glass is preserved as a reminder, embedded in the wall at the top of the main stairs.
Between 1968 and 1972, a new South Block, designed by the architects Donald McMorran and George Whitby, was built to accommodate more modern courts. There are 18 courts in use at present. Court 19 is now used variously as a press overflow facility, as a registration room for first-day jurors or as a holding area for serving jurors.
The original ceremonial gate to the 1907 part of the building in Warwick Square, on the western side of the complex, is the "Lord Mayor's Entrance" and only used by the Lord Mayor and visiting royalty. The general entrance to the building is a few yards down the road in the South Block and is often featured as a backdrop in television news reports. There is also a separate rear entrance, not open to the public, which permits more discreet access.
A remnant of the city wall is preserved in the basement beneath the cells.
Until 2017 the court manager was known by the title of the Secondary of the City of London, an ancient title of a City officer.Today the more prosaic 'Head of Operations' is used.
All judges sitting in the Old Bailey are addressed as "My Lord" or "My Lady" whether they are High Court, circuit judges or recorders. The Lord Mayor and aldermen of the City of London are entitled to sit on the judges' bench during a hearing but do not participate in hearings. By tradition the judge sits slightly off-centre in case the Lord Mayor decides to come in; if he did he would take the centre chair.
The most senior permanent judge of the Central Criminal Court has the title of Recorder of London, and his deputy has the title of Common Serjeant of London. The position of "Recorder of London" is distinct from that of a recorder, which is a part-time judicial office, holders of which sit part-time as judges of the Crown or county courts. Some of the most senior criminal lawyers in the country sit as recorders in the Central Criminal Court.
As of 2015 [update] the Recorder of London is Judge Nicholas Hilliard QC, MA, who took over as the Recorder of London on the retirement of Judge Brian Barker who took over on the retirement of Judge Peter Beaumont CBE QC, appointed in December 2004 following the death of his predecessor, Judge Michael Hyam. From 1975 to 1990 the very outspoken Sir James Miskin served as the Recorder of London with a number of controversial cases coming before him.
The court house originated as part of the City of London's borough judicial system, and it remains so. The Recorder and the Common Serjeant are both City officers, and the Recorder is a member of the Common Council because he is also a member of the Court of Aldermen. The City's sheriffs and the Lord Mayor are justices there, but their jurisdiction is now nominal. The sheriffs are resident with the senior judges in the complex. In Court Number 1, there are several benches set aside for the committee of the Bridge House Estates, which is the actual owner of the building.
As the court in which the most serious criminal cases in London, and often the whole of England and Wales, have been heard for centuries, there are many references to the Old Bailey.
Newgate Prison was a prison at the corner of Newgate Street and Old Bailey just inside the City of London, England, originally at the site of Newgate, a gate in the Roman London Wall. Built in the 12th century and demolished in 1904, the prison was extended and rebuilt many times, and remained in use for over 700 years, from 1188 to 1902.
The Royal Courts of Justice, commonly called the Law Courts, is a court building in London which houses the High Court and Court of Appeal of England and Wales. The High Court also sits on circuit and in other major cities. Designed by George Edmund Street, who died before it was completed, it is a large grey stone edifice in the Victorian Gothic style built in the 1870s and opened by Queen Victoria in 1882. It is one of the largest courts in Europe. It is located on Strand within the City of Westminster, near the border with the City of London. It is surrounded by the four Inns of Court, St Clement Danes church, The Australian High Commission, King's College London and the London School of Economics. The nearest London Underground stations are Chancery Lane and Temple.
Rumpole of the Bailey is a British television series created and written by the British writer and barrister John Mortimer. It starred Leo McKern as Horace Rumpole, an elderly London barrister who defended a broad variety of clients, often underdogs. The TV series led to the stories being presented in other media including books and radio.
William Edgar Rayner Goddard, Baron Goddard, was Lord Chief Justice of England from 1946 to 1958, known for his strict sentencing and conservative views despite being the first Lord Chief Justice to be appointed by a Labour government, as well as the first to possess a law degree. Goddard's no-nonsense reputation was reflected in a number of nicknames that he acquired, these included: 'The Tiger', 'Justice-in-a-jiffy', and - from Winston Churchill—'Lord God-damn'.
Elizabeth Canning (married name Treat; 17 September 1734 – June 1773) was an English maidservant who claimed to have been kidnapped and held against her will in a hayloft for almost a month. She ultimately became central to one of the most famous English criminal mysteries of the 18th century.
A Recorder is a judicial officer in England and Wales and some other common law jurisdictions.
Circuit judges are judges in England and Wales who sit in the Crown Court, county courts and certain specialized sub-divisions of the High Court of Justice, such as the Technology and Construction Court. There are currently over 600 circuit judges throughout England and Wales.
The Recorder of London is an ancient legal office in the City of London. The Recorder of London is appointed by the Crown on the recommendation of the City of London Corporation with the concurrence of the Lord Chancellor. The Recorder is the senior Circuit Judge at the Central Criminal Court, hearing trials of criminal offences. The Recorder's deputy is the Common Serjeant of London, appointed by the Crown on the recommendation of the Lord Chancellor. The current Recorder of London is Nicholas Hilliard QC.
Green Street Courthouse is a courthouse between Green Street and Halston Street in the Smithfield area of Dublin, Ireland. It was the site of many widely discussed criminal trials from 1797 until 2010, when the Criminal Courts of Justice building opened.
James Armstrong Chadwin QC was a prominent British barrister, whose cases included defending Peter Sutcliffe, the "Yorkshire Ripper".
Brian John Barker is a British retired judge. From February 2013 to January 2015 he served as the Recorder of London, the most senior judge at the Old Bailey. Prior to that he was the former Common Serjeant of London, the second most senior judge at the Old Bailey.
Catherine Wilson was a British serial killer who was hanged for one murder, but was generally thought at the time to have committed six others. She worked as a nurse and poisoned her victims after encouraging them to leave her money in their wills. She was described privately by the sentencing judge as "the greatest criminal that ever lived."
The High Court of Justice in England is, together with the Court of Appeal and the Crown Court, one of the Senior Courts of England and Wales. Its name is abbreviated as EWHC for legal citation purposes.
Sir Richard Somers Travers Christmas Humphreys was a noted British barrister and judge who, during a sixty-year legal career, was involved in the cases of Oscar Wilde and the murderers Hawley Harvey Crippen, George Joseph Smith and John George Haigh, the 'Acid Bath Murderer', among many others.
His Honour Judge Nicholas Richard Maybury Hilliard is a British judge who was the 80th Common Serjeant of London, an ancient and senior legal post at the Old Bailey second only to that of the Recorder of London. He was appointed to that office in May 2013. Since 6 January 2015 he has served as the Recorder of London, the senior judge at the Old Bailey.
William Spiggot was a highwayman who was captured by Jonathan Wild's men in 1721. During his trial at the Old Bailey, he at first refused to plead and was therefore sentenced to be pressed until he pleaded. This was called Peine forte et dure. He was later executed, after a second trial when he pleaded not guilty, on 11 February 1721 at Tyburn, London.
Newman Knowlys was an English barrister and judge and the Common Serjeant of London and Recorder of London.
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