Thursday 8 December 2016

Treason trial marks Magna Carta

Published 17/05/2015 | 11:46

Barons and bishops face a two-hour mock trial to help mark the 800th anniversary of the sealing of the Magna Carta
Barons and bishops face a two-hour mock trial to help mark the 800th anniversary of the sealing of the Magna Carta

A group of barons and bishops are set to stand trial on treason charges 800 years after their alleged crime, the Supreme Court has announced.

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They will face judgement in a two-hour mock trial in the Houses of Parliament before three of the world's top judges to help mark the 800th anniversary of the sealing of the Magna Carta.

The show trial is to feature modern-day barons and bishops while lawyers from the across the Commonwealth will argue the defence and prosecution cases. One of the key issues is set to be whether the barons and bishops were acting lawfully when they refused to surrender London to King John as they had agreed.

The July 31 trial, which has been arranged by the Supreme Court, The Magna Carta 800th Anniversary Commemoration Committee and the Royal Commonwealth Society, takes place at Westminster Hall, where the court met for centuries.

UK Supreme Court president Lord Neuberger, New Zealand chief justice Dame Sian Elias and Stephen Breyer, an Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court are to hear the case in which King John is to be called as a prosecution witness.

As a witness for the barons Sir Robert Rogers, now Lord Lisvane, is set to argue that the Commons might not exist today but for the Barons at Runnymede on 15 June 1215.

Sir Robert Worcester, who chairs the Magna Carta 800th Anniversary Commemoration Committee, claimed the event which had to get the go-ahead from the the Lord Great Chamberlain, the Lord Speaker and Mr Speaker, will be "more than just a bit of historical themed fun".

He said: "The evidence being examined by these eminent judges will help explore some timeless questions of legal and constitutional importance. Is the King above the law? Is there ever a defence for breaking a solemn promise?"

Anyone who is interested in being part of the public gallery can g on line - at www.magnacarta800th.com - for more information.

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