Challenging Custody Time Limit Extension

Kyri Argyropoulos led by Sarah Forshaw QC (instructed by Waterfords Solicitors) is currently instructed in R v P, the case involving Custody Time Limits formerly with Judge Raynor but decided by Mrs Justice Whipple. The defence argued that the appearance of bias required Mrs Justice Whipple to withdraw and that the government’s lack of investment and planning in the court service should not mean that defendants languish in gaol for over a year awaiting their trial.

The case has gained notoriety because of the judge originally allocated to decide it being replaced at the 11th hour without explanation. HHJ Raynor as the allocated trial judge was due to hear the case re Custody Time Limits on Wednesday 9th September 2020. The previous day Judge Raynor had been critical of the lack of action and resources given to the Criminal Courts to enable them to hear cases during the Covid-19 pandemic and had refused to extend the Custody Time Limits in that case. At 5pm that same day the case was re-allocated to a Presiding High Court Judge, Mrs Justice Whipple, although the case remained with Judge Raynor for all other administrative matters on the 9th. On 14th September the defence argued that what happened gave the appearance of interference with an unpopular decision by Judge Raynor by the senior Judiciary, who drafted-in another judge to achieve a different result (from the one they anticipated had Judge Raynor retained the case). The defence therefore argued that because of the appearance of bias that Mrs Justice Whipple should recuse herself.
The defence also argued that by criticising HMCTS for lack of action they were implicitly criticising the senior judiciary. This was because the Senior Judiciary and the Ministry of Justice now work together to run the court service. It was therefore wrong for a Presiding Judge to be seen to judge a case that involved being critical of work they themselves were part of. The criticisms by Judge Raynor and (echoed & expanded on by the defence) included gross underfunding of the Criminal Justice System and a systemic failure to implement enough measures to ensure that criminal trials took place as soon as was reasonably practical.

Mrs Justice Whipple declined to recuse herself and in due course also extended Custody Time Limits. The defendant will now have spent 505 days in custody before his trial.
The next stage could be for the defence to seek Judicial Review of the case.

Press Coverage:

The Standard
The Law Gazette