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Trial collapses

The United Synagogue was said to have 'offended the very name of justice' by a crown court judge on Monday.

The North Finchley-based organisation, which represents United and Orthodox synagogues throughout Britain was criticised by Judge George Bathurst-Norman after taking a 'casual' approach to a criminal fraud trial at Southwark Crown Court.

The case against six cemetery workers from the East Ham and Waltham Abbey cemeteries, who allegedly plundered hundreds of thousands of pounds from the High Road organisation's coffers using invoices from bogus companies, collapsed on Monday after the judge dismissed the jury.

Explaining his reasons, the judge blamed the United Synagogue after important documents requested in February, which were said to have not existed, reappeared in the third week of the trial.

"It shows, I'm afraid, on behalf of the United Synagogue, an approach to the prosecution of former employees so casual, it offends the very name of justice," he said, adding around £500,000 of taxpayers' money spent on the trial had been 'wasted', he added.

In a statement, the United Synagogue, denied any wrong-doing, saying it was 'deeply concerned' by these comments.

"The United Synagogue is seeking clarification of these remarks which were made in the course of a criminal trial to which the United Synagogue, as the victim, was not a party and was not represented."

The case was adjourned until December 3, when defence lawyers will argue a retrial should not be allowed because of an abuse of process.

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