Hunt protestors target court opening

THE opening of a £14million state-of-the-art Crown Court development was gatecrashed by angry hunt supporters yesterday.Campaigners from the Countryside Alliance were at Ipswich Crown Court to lobby the Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer, as he officially unveiled the new building.

THE opening of a £14million state-of-the-art Crown Court development was gatecrashed by angry hunt supporters yesterday.

Campaigners from the Countryside Alliance were at Ipswich Crown Court to lobby the Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer, as he officially unveiled the new building.

About 50 demonstrators were outside the court, on Russell Road, voicing their opposition to the Government's plans to outlaw fox-hunting.

The protests came a day after members of the Alliance and other pro-hunting groups from the region manned a three-hour piquet outside Downing Street.


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Eastern region director Liz Mort said: “We are disappointed that we haven't spoken to him [Lord Falconer] face-to-face but I realise that he is busy with the opening of the court. I think what we would tell him is quite clear.

“It is important for the Government to understand that there are a lot of people who feel strongly about this issue and they will not let the matter drop.

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“If ministers think we will just go away they are mistaken. We will keep coming out demonstrating, we will not give in.”

Although the court has been in operation since June, Lord Falconer was on hand to unveil a commemorative plaque and officially open the building.

“Today marks a great step for justice in this area. The new court means we are able to provide a modern effective justice system tailored to meet the needs of the people who use this court every day,” he said.

“Going to court can often be a traumatic experience for victims and witnesses but the new separate waiting areas, separate circulation areas and the modern spacious rooms will ensure that vulnerable court users will feel that they are being treated with the sensitivity, dignity and respect they deserve.

“It is with great delight that I announce Suffolk now has Crown Court facilities fit for the 21st century.”

The development, which replaces the old building on Civic Drive, includes five courtrooms, including a public court hall and supporting offices, separate waiting areas for victims and witnesses, segregated corridors and the latest IT equipment.

Other criminal justice agencies including the police, the Crown Prosecution Service and the Probation Service are also housed in the building.

Ross Taylor, court manager, added: “Everything went very well. There were issues with the protestors but the ceremony went smoothly and we carried it out according to schedule.

“I think the important thing is that security has been greatly improved in this new building. There are now separate routes for juries, judges, witnesses and defendants so that people who use the court, including staff, feel safe.”

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