Judges and jurors among 164 positive Covid tests at courts

Tristan Kirk
·2-min read
General view of Isleworth Crown Court, London (PA Archive/PA Images)
General view of Isleworth Crown Court, London (PA Archive/PA Images)

Judges and jurors were among 164 court users who tested positive for Covid-19 in the space of four weeks, latest government figures have shown.

Courts minister Chris Philp told Parliament that 16 judges and 13 jurors had contracted the virus, while 82 staff members and 53 court users had also returned positive tests.

The figures, released following a question by Shadow Justice minister Alexa Cunningham, covered the period between January 26 and February 19.

It showed eight members of staff at Bromley county court and family, which had to shut down last month due to an outbreak, tested positive for the virus.

A judge sitting at the Rolls Building of the Royal Courts of Justice was affected, as well as members of the judicial sitting at magistrates courts in Uxbridge, Thames, and Wimbledon.

The figures also show that two jurors tested positive for Covid while serving at Harrow crown court.

Replying to the Parliamentary question, Mr Philp said the courts in England and Wales have been set up to meet public health guidelines.

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He said further positive cases may have to be added to the figures due to delays in the reporting process.

“There should be no assumption that a positive case indicates that there has been transmission within a court building”, he said.

“HMCTS employs around 19,800 staff (payroll and non-payroll). There are around 19,400 judicial office holders covering all jurisdictions, including coroners and magistrates. The population of jurors fluctuates each week, but we estimate around 4,000 jurors attend weekly.

“For staff and agency staff in HMCTS as a whole (including tribunals), positive test rates are falling in line with national numbers. The incident rate amongst staff is trending around the national average.”

Southwark crown court did not report anyone catching Covid-19 in those four weeks, according to the figures, just prior to it becoming one of two centres piloting the testing of court attendees.

The previous batch of figures released by the government showed almost 600 court users testing positive between November 24 and January 11.

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