Juries in child sex offence trials may be told if a defendant has
previous convictions for similar offences under proposals announced
by home secretary David Blunkett.
The new measures were outlined this week and will also apply to
trials for theft offences.
Under the new measures, the “strong presumption” will be that
convictions should be revealed to the jury. Currently, evidence of
a defendant’s bad character is generally inadmissible in
The government said the plans would give juries access to
information about a defendant’s previous convictions and other
misconduct where it was relevant and likely to throw new light on a
case, without disproportionately prejudicing the fairness of the
But a spokesperson for human rights organisation Liberty said the
plans could lead to wrongful convictions. “If you tell a jury with
the best will in the world that someone has a string of previous
convictions, the overwhelming likelihood is that they will
convict,” he said.