WORCESTER Crown Court is set for heavy disruption in the coming weeks after barristers announced they were going on strike over legal aid funding.

Several days of court walkouts will begin from next week and cases at which barristers are required will likely have to be postponed - including crown court trials.

Worcester Crown Court is already facing significant backlogs due to the Covid pandemic.

Another issue, unique to Worcester, is that it has the additional workload of Hereford Shirehall which has been out of action for two years due to part of its ceiling collapsing.

The strike action is intended to last for four weeks, beginning with walkouts on Monday and Tuesday (June 27 and 28) increasing by one day each week until a five-day strike between July 18 and July 22.

Ledbury Reporter: WALK OUT: Barristers are to go on strike from next week. Picture: PAWALK OUT: Barristers are to go on strike from next week. Picture: PA

Among the cases set to be affected is the trial of David Venables who is accused of murdering his wife Brenda in 1982.

That trial began last week and is expected to last six weeks.

The Criminal Bar Association (CBA) which organised the ballot, said around 81.5 per cent of more than 2,000 of its members to respond supported industrial action.

Ledbury Reporter: COURT: Hereford ShirehallCOURT: Hereford Shirehall

Judge Martin Jackson was among the judges explaining to defendants why their cases are being heavily delayed on Monday, (June 20).

In one case he told the defendant: “There has been the Covid pandemic, and the problems arising from that.

“We are currently without the court we use for trials in Hereford because the ceiling collapsed, and the council haven’t repaired it.”

READ MORE: Barristers vote to strike in England and Wales - when and why

READ MORE: Ceiling collapses at Hereford Shirehall

In another case it was heard a trial could not get underway on Monday, (June 20).

After a court clerk checked the timetable for available dates, an alternative date for a trial was initially suggested for February 12, 2024.

The judge said he was in a “difficult position” and took the decision to see if it could go ahead later this week.

The CBA said it made “repeated efforts” to persuade the government to honour the recommendations of the Criminal Legal Aid Review to increase their fees by 15 per cent immediately, but have been disappointed.

In April, the CBA started to refuse to carry out “return work” – stepping in and picking up court hearings and other work for colleagues whose cases are overrunning – which is described as a gesture of goodwill to prop up the justice system.