18th May – SEE UPDATE AT FOOT OF PAGE
Doctors, lawyers, teachers, an ex-Detective Sergeant, a Quaker and a Rabbi were all among 24 people who sat outside Inner London Crown Court yesterday and again today displaying banners which read “Jurors – you have an absolute right to acquit a defendant on your conscience.”
All were defying Judge Silas Reid, who has repeatedly sent defendants to prison for mentioning the climate crisis or fuel poverty in court, and has had retired social worker Trudi Warner sent to the Old Bailey for standing outside the court with that same sign, a reference to a principle which was established in Law in the 17th century. Trudi’s case was referred to the Attorney General to consider prosecuting her for ‘perverting the course of justice’, and three other people, who allegedly put up posters near the court with simar wording, have also been arrested.
The defiant group sent a letter to Judge Reid to ensure he was aware of their action, along with a follow-up on the second day, but they were ignored by court staff and police, and no arrests were forthcoming. Among the group were Olympian Etienne Stott MBE.
Former government lawyer Tim Crosland accused Judge Reid of being an ‘unprincipled bully’ in having Trudi Warner and others arrested, when he has backed down in the face of a larger protest. But the group are celebrating the power of solidarity and claim that his inaction makes a mockery of other potential prosecutions.
COURT UPDATE 18th May
According to supporters at the end of this week’s trial, Judge Reid made mention of the actions outside his court indicating that those involved would be referred to the Attorney General, although none have been spoken to by court officials or police.
The big news is that Judge Reid seems to have backed down in the trial of four people charged with causing a public nuisance, in connection with an Insulate Britain roadblock in October 2021.
Defying the judge’s order not to refer to motivations in her defence, nor to mention fuel poverty, home insulation or the climate crisis, Mary Adams – a Charity Director – told the jury that her actions were driven by care for the public good and future generations.
She said “the rulings of this court have deemed that motive and context are irrelevant in this trial, that the charge of public nuisance is to be judged in a vacuum. But when context and motive are stripped away, where is the justice in the law? The climate crisis is a fact, it’s not a ”personal belief” as described in this court, nor is our government’s inaction on the greatest crisis in human history”.
In stark contrast to earlier trials, Judge Reid did not clear the court nor reprimand Mary. After similar statements in the past, defendants have been sent to prison for contempt of court.
The nine person jury deliberated for four hours but were unable to reach a majority verdict. After dismissing the jury, Judge Reid will decide at the end of June whether to grant the Crown a retrial.
Quite rightly, the jury system doesn’t allow us to know what discussions are held, what are the grounds for any decision, and it never holds individual jurors to account, but it seems possible that some may have been swayed to act on their conscience, which they are legally entitled to do. It’s also possible that until they saw the protests on Monday and Tuesday, they were not aware they could make a moral rather than a legal decision – it is not something that Judges like to mention.
If YOU know anyone called to jury service, make them aware of this and the connected articles, so they know their rights and duties under English law. This is an important check on unfettered power and must be publicised.
The more this information is circulated, the less our undemocratic authoritarian government, and single-minded judges like Silas Reid, will get their way.