The Court of Appeal has ruled that a criminal trial can take place at Crown Court without a jury for the first time in England and Wales.
The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, made legal history by agreeing to allow the trial to be heard by a judge alone.
It is the first time the power has been used since it came into force in 2007.
Lord Judge described trial by jury as a “hallowed principle” of British justice, but said the Criminal Justice Act 2003 did allow a trial to he heard by a judge alone in certain circumstances.
But Liberty director of policy Isabella Sankey said: “This is a dangerous precedent.
“The right to jury trial isn’t just a hallowed principle but a practice that ensures that one class of people don’t sit in judgement over another and the public have confidence in an open and representative justice system.
“What signal do we send to witnesses if the police can’t even protect juries?”