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20 June, 2008

2007 - 2008 - Best year EVER for Magistrates' Court Mock Trial Competition!

Over 250 12-14 year olds from around the UK are appearing in Leeds Magistrates’ Court on Saturday 21st June 2008 taking part in the National Final of the Magistrates’ Court Mock Trial Competition tomorrow. Run by the Citizenship Foundation in partnership with the Magistrates’ Association, the annual Competition aims to bring the law to life for year 8 and 9 pupils in a fun, interactive and educational way.

Now in its 14th successful year, the Magistrates Court Mock Trial Competition 2007/08 has attracted more participating schools than ever before with a rise of 8% on 2006/07. Starting in September 2007, a total of 338 schools have competed in local and regional heats involving 5000 students. A total of 18 teams from England, Wales and Northern Ireland will compete in Saturday’s grand final.

The teams will use carefully constructed witness statements to prepare the prosecution and defence of two specially written criminal cases in which the leading protagonists can be either male or female. Students take on the roles of lawyers, witnesses, magistrates and court staff and compete against each other in a live format, with one team prosecuting and the other defending. Their performances will be judged by real magistrates and other legal professionals. 

This year’s criminal cases focus on a harassment case and a drink driving case:

·         The first case focuses on a land dispute:  The charge is that landscape gardener Harold/Harriett Clarke, 37, having planted Leylandii hedging pursued a course of conduct that amounted to harassment of neighbour and bank manager Nigel/Nigella Quimby, 53, who had taken Civil Proceedings in the County Court to have the now massive trees cut down. Harold/Harriett knew or ought to have known his /her behaviour amounted to harassment contrary to Section 1 and 2 (1) of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997.

·         The second case focuses on drink driving: The charge is that having passed his/her driving test two weeks previously, shop assistant Ronald/Rhona Merryweather, 21, crashed a brand new Peugeot 106 bought that same day into a road sign ending up in a ditch after consuming so much alcohol that the proportion of alcohol in his/her breath exceeded that prescribed limit contrary to Section 5, Sub-section 1 Road Traffic Act 1988.

The Competition will be opened by John Robins, Chief Superintendent of the West Yorkshire Police and Tony Breslin, Chief Executive at the Citizenship Foundation. The Closing address will be given by the Lord Mayor of Leeds (Councillor Frank Robinson) and Don Rowe, Director, Curriculum Development and Resources at the Citizenship Foundation. 

Speaking about the Competition, Tony Breslin says:  “We are delighted to have had such a large response from secondary schools to this year’s Magistrates’ Court Mock Trial Competition. The two cases in the final are extremely topical. The Merryweather case highlights the dangers of young people drinking to excess and the ‘neighbours from hell’ scenario of the Leylandii trees is far from a joke.  Few people realise that magistrates deal with  95% of criminal cases – more than one million every year. The Competition offers young people a hands-on introduction to the legal system, the role of magistrates' courts in local justice and how laws are administered. The 250 young people taking part on Saturday have done really well to make it to the National Final in Leeds and we hope they enjoy the day. It is tremendous that more schools are taking part.”


For all media enquiries contact:Sue Garland T: 0207 566 3034 M: 07720 288 438 Sue.garland@citizenshipfoundation.org.uk 

Notes to editors and picture desks 

Programme Saturday 21st June 2008:

9.30  Participants arrive – team photos opportunity
10:00amJudges, Lead Magistrates and VIPs arrive
10.45amWelcome speeches
11:15amRound 1, R v Clarke
12:15pmLunch – Garforth Community Band  performance
1:15pmRound 2, R v Merryweather
2:30pmBreak –  Garforth Community Band 
3:00pmPrize giving presentation
3:30pmClose of day – winners photo opportunity

 Participating Schools

Assumption Grammar School

Northern Ireland
Bishop's Stortford High SchoolHertfordshire
Bradfield SchoolSheffield
Cantell Maths and Computing CollegeSouthampton
Colchester County High School For GirlsEssex
Colyton Grammar SchoolDevon
Dormers Wells High SchoolEaling, London
Gumley House Convent SchoolHounslow, London
John Taylor High SchoolStaffordshire
King Charles I School Kidderminster
King Edward VI School Handsworth
Maiden Erlegh SchoolBerkshire
Penyrheol Comprehensive SchoolSwansea
Rainford High Technology CollegeSt. Helens
Ranelagh SchoolBerkshire
Robert May's SchoolHampshire
Whitley Bay High SchoolNorth Tyneside
Wilmslow High SchoolCheshire

 About the Citizenship Foundation

The Citizenship Foundation is an independent charity (no.801360) which aims to empower individuals to engage in the wider community through education about the law, democracy and society, Founded in 1989, it focuses on developing young people’s citizenship skills, knowledge and understanding. Its work includes resources, training, active learning programmes, community projects and research. www.citizenshipfoundation.org.uk 

About the Competition

Now in its 14th successful year, the Magistrates’ Court Mock Trial Competition is run by the Citizenship Foundation in partnership with the Magistrates’ Association and is funded by the Ministry of Justice, law firm Addleshaw Goddard and retailer Wilkinson. This year’s competition saw the highest number of entries across England, Wales and Northern Ireland with 5000 students participating along with 800 magistrates and legal professionals.  It is open to all state funded secondary schools in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.        

Sue Garland
Media Relations Manager
Citizenship Foundation
Gee Street
EC1V 3RST: 020 7566 5034
F: 020 7566 4131M: 07720 288 438
www.citizenshipfoundation.org.ukStay in touch with news, events, new resources and developments at the Citizenship Foundation. Sign up here to subscribe to our monthly e-bulletin .Charity Reg. No. 801360. Company Reg No. 2351363. Registered in
England. Registered Office as above  


Your comments

From susan - luton
what is it like wining exactly.. if u try n u dnt win? happenz all da time... d iz annoyin shud give everyone a medal for partispating in it!:(

From sam -
RAINFORD!!! they will win they are amazing! i have seen them in action. i couldn't believe how good they were!! rainford to win!!!

From Jane Lowe - Basingstoke
I just wanted to say thank you for a well organised day at Leeds yesterday. The students from Robert Mays had an excellent time and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I cannot begin to imagine the amount of work that went into such a day and am very grateful to all of the volunteers who helped to make it!

From sian erwin - swansea

From Hugh - Hampshire
The standards were impressively high and, from what I as a parent of one of the Robert May's team saw, Penyrheol were worthy winners. It's a wonderful scheme and thanks should clearly go to the many who made it all possible. So much works so well, but could I suggest one small change. When it comes to witnesses, defendants, etc, could names that are equally applicable to both sexes be chosen? I know several participants were flawed by saying Nigella when they meant Nigel, or Harold instead of Harriet. It adds an unnecessary and unrealistic extra pressure. There are so many names that could be used - Charlie, Sam, Hilary, Robin, Vivienne, Lesley, Francis, Kit, Chris, etc, etc. It would allow students to listen to what is being said rather than fretting about what gender the witness is in this enactment of the case.That's a small point. The main thing to say is how well the students (and teachers and legal advisers) performed in what is a magnificent scheme.

From Tim clark - Hampshire
I agree with hugh completely as i was a member of the robert mays school team. Having to remember two names just adds pressure that really don't need. and again i would like to say thank you to everyone involved in organising it.

From Laura - Birmingham
i was there as well participating and the competion was high. Everyone did a fantastic job and at the end the winners were worth it. i played the drunken driver's friend and it was amazing to have such a wonderful opportunity to do that.

From Matt Pink - Hertfordshire
Wonder where we came, we were so close I reckon cos we beat colchester who came second...

From Waj -

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