Judge refers doctors, priest and Olympic Gold medalist to Attorney General over alleged contempt of court

In a dramatic escalation of tensions over the role of juries in criminal trials, a Crown Court Judge has referred 24 people, including doctors, a priest, an Olympic Gold medalist, a retired Detective Sergeant and a former Government lawyer, to the Attorney General for contempt of court for holding up signs outside court. If prosecuted and convicted the 24 could now face up to 2 years’ imprisonment. Others have been informed they could be charged with perverting the course of justice for posting similar signs, an offence which carries a maximum of life imprisonment.

Over 2 days in May, the group sat quietly outside Inner London Crown Court holding placards which read: “Jurors have an absolute right to acquit a defendant according to their conscience”. The statement reflects a centuries-old principle of British law (which is displayed in marble by the original entrance to the Old Bailey). The context for the action is an increasing pattern of campaigners being banned both from explaining the reasons for their actions when prosecuted and also from informing juries of their right to make decisions on their conscience. Already a number have been jailed just for using the words “climate change” and “fuel poverty” in court. And when Trudi Warner, a 68-year old retired social worker, held up a similar sign outside Inner London Crown Court informing jurors of their right to make decisions of conscience she was arrested, sent to the Old Bailey and referred to the Attorney General.

Press release

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