Day 86, Part 2: The phone hacking trial is so far behind schedule the jurors were told today they may have to cancel holidays in June.
The case, which began in October but has been dogged by delays, was originally scheduled to finish this month.
In February 2014, Mr Justice Saunders told the 12 jurors then present that the “worst case scenario” was that they would retire to consider their verdicts in mid-May.
Since then one female juror has been discharged due to ill-health, a process which took up two days of the court’s time.
Addressing the 11 remaining jurors today, Mr Justice Saunders told them that for various reasons, including some outside his or the court’s control, the timetable had slipped further.
He informed them that the case would break over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend and that, given that some of them had commitments close to the May Bank Holiday weekend there would be a further break between 22 and 26 May.
Mr Justice Saunders said:
“Bearing in mind all that has happened and all the possibilities you may not retire to consider your verdicts until about the end of May.”
How long they would take to consider their verdicts could not be known by anyone, including themselves at this stage, he said, adding that he did not want any juror to feel rushed while making their deliberations.
As a consequence he asked them to make “contingency plans” for June, to allow sufficient time to try what he terms an “extremely important and extremely expensive case”.
That might include cancelling holidays, he said.
“We will help you,” he told the 11 remaining eight female and three male jurors. We will pay for alternative holidays if necessary; it’s a drop in the ocean compared to the cost of this trial. I’m sorry there has been slippage.”
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