The Attorney-General faced a storm of protest yesterday when a fourth jury trial in eight days was halted because of prosecution blunders. Lawyers said they had warned for months that 'scandalous' policies which allowed less experienced counsel to handle serious jury trials would lead to a crisis. The latest bungle meant Deputy Judge Pang Kin-kee was forced to abandon a rape trial because Senior Crown Counsel Joseph To had given the jury 'grossly prejudicial' information. Mr To made a similar mistake on Wednesday, which also led to the case being scrapped and started again with a new jury. The judge said: 'I must again express my concern about the conduct of this case. It is a matter for you entirely again, Mr To.' Defence lawyers Edward Laskey, Peter Lavac, Shaun Kelly and Stuart Cotsen urged the judge to discharge the jury because of the 'serious risk' of an unfair trial. They described comments made by Mr To in his opening as severely damaging and breaching a fundamental principle of justice. Three days have been wasted at an estimated cost to the taxpayer of about $250,000. Mr To appeared to be fighting back tears as he left. He had argued the jury should not be discharged. Outside court he said: 'I have a public duty to perform. I am doing my best. I have nothing on my conscience.' The Legal Department said it would not be removing Mr To from the case, which is due to start for a third time on Monday. However, an inquiry is to be conducted. A spokesman said the department only sent counsel to the High Court when it was satisfied they had enough experience. Mr To has been practising as a lawyer since 1989 and joined the Legal Department in May 1994. Prior to that he had worked in the Legal Aid Department. He has prosecuted about 10 jury trials. On Monday, a murder trial was halted when Assistant Principal Crown Counsel William Lam introduced prejudicial material to the jury. Last Thursday, an arson case collapsed after 43 days when Senior Crown Counsel Patty Lee was accused of ambushing the defence and presenting unfair evidence. Ms Lee will remain on the case when it re-starts. Experienced lawyers inside and outside the Legal Department slammed policies which they claimed were damaging morale, sinking public confidence, and jeopardising justice. They partly blamed the 'knee-jerk reaction' to the Graham Grant scandal which has led to drastic cuts in the number of High Court cases being briefed out. The changes were made after it was revealed Mr Grant was paid up to $17.1 million for continuing his government brief after going into private practice. As a result, lawyers said, prominent counsel were hired to prosecute 'piffling' cases at the District Court, where their fees were less. Meanwhile, less experienced government lawyers took on murder and rape cases involving juries, said barristers. One Legal Department lawyer said: 'We are generally disappointed with a system which allows people without the necessary experience to be exposed. They should not be put in the firing line.'