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Intermediaries in the criminal justice system and the ‘neutrality paradox’

Taggart, John (2022) Intermediaries in the criminal justice system and the ‘neutrality paradox’. Journal of Law and Society, 49 (2). 339 - 361. ISSN 0263-323X

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Identification Number: 10.1111/jols.12361


The intermediary special measure was introduced by the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999 (YJCEA) to assist vulnerable witnesses to give evidence in court. This article focuses on the role's relationship with its underpinning value of neutrality. Findings from 31 interviews with intermediaries in England and Wales and Northern Ireland, as well as judges in Northern Ireland, suggest that this aspect of the role is problematic and deserves critical examination. Though there is a broad commitment to neutrality among intermediaries, the role's practice reveals latent tensions and contradictions that contribute towards what I term the ‘neutrality paradox’. This article uses the Bourdieusian concept of ‘illusio’ as an explanatory tool to examine deviations from the normative expectation of neutrality. It focuses on how intermediaries experience and conceptualize their own neutrality and explores how this can aid understanding of the role's scope and position within the criminal justice system.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2022 The Author
Divisions: Law
Subjects: K Law > K Law (General)
Date Deposited: 06 Jun 2022 15:24
Last Modified: 15 Jun 2022 09:39

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