A rash of cases of misconduct by jurors – including researching cases on the internet – prompted specific new penalties under the 2015 Criminal Justice and Courts Act. But serving on a jury has long carried perils – including having ones home and lands destroyed for returning the wrong verdict, or prison time for “being embraced”. Read more.
Jurors have been sent to prison for breaching strict rules to ensure a fair trial – especially the requirement that they reach a verdict solely on the basis of the evidence presented in court. A rash of cases prompted the creation of a specific offence under the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015. Examples are listed in an academic paper (pictured).
Tina Malone, a star of the TV soap Shameless, was fined £10,000 and given a suspended prison sentence for sharing a Facebook post. It purported to reveal the current identity of Jon Venables, one of two men who, as 10-year-old boys, had killed the toddler Jamie Bulger. An injunction bans anyone in the world from revealing their current names or showing pictures of them – partly to protect innocent people whose pictures might be published in error. Read more.
Tommy Robinson’s arrest for contempt of court “was artfully turned into a combination of free speech debate, political campaign and donation drive that netted him around £2m in donations,” reported the Independent website. It also noted how the far-right was able to exploit the lack of regulation of social media (something British ministers promised to change in February 2019). Read the article here.
The far-right agitator Tommy Robinson was released from prison after Appeal Court judges ruled he had been jailed too abruptly for alleged contempt. He was convicted within only five hours of being arrested for live-broadcasting details of a trial when restrictions were in place, meaning his barrister did not have adequate time to prepare a mitigation plea. But he would face a re-trial at The Old Bailey. A report in the Telegraph sets out the story of the saga and Robinson’s background.
Despite open justice, empty press benches in court mean “justice operates essentially unseen and unheard by the public”, a senior barrister has warned in an article. He says this gives rise to false myths about how court cases operate. Reporters often piece together reports based on “fragments” of a case, writes Andrew Langdon QC, chairman of the Bar Council. Read more.
Journalism students used to be told they could not take notes at Coventry magistrates’ court; but they no longer need to accept such a ban. A member of the public appealed after being threatened with contempt for taking notes (elsewhere), and a resulting ruling says anyone – press or public – should be allowed to take notes unless there is a good reason to ban them. Read Cleland Thom’s article here.
The Sun’s headline over the arrest of the husband of EastEnders actress Sian Blake “certainly created a substantial risk of serious prejudice” in any future trial, said law writer Cleland Thom in Press Gazette. “So will The Sun get away with it? Yes – definitely.” But if the arrest had been in an EU country, it wouldn’t. Find out why here
GQ magazine’s publisher was found guilty of contempt of court over a columnist’s piece about the Coulson hacking trial. A judge found substantial risk of serious prejudice. GQ’s lawyers had cleared it, reported The Guardian. Read more
Channel 4 News nearly prejudiced a child abuse trial when it uploaded “triumphalist” coverage of the guilty verdict to its website for executives to see – while the jury was still deliberating (Press Gazette reported). The judge found it “repugnant” that police had given interviews in advance, to be used once the verdict was announced. Read more