Protestors gather at Northampton Crown Court in silent support of 'jury equity'
People from across Northamptonshire joined a silent protest today outside Northampton Crown Court as part of a national ‘Defend Our Juries’ campaign.
They held signs displaying the centuries-old principle of jury equity – the right of all jurors in British courtrooms to acquit a defendant according to their conscience and irrespective of the directions of the judge.
There were protestors at 54 of the country’s 91 crown courts this morning (Monday, December 4) and by displaying signs they run the risk of arrest.
In September, the Solicitor General announced he would prosecute a woman for contempt of court, for holding a similar sign outside a court in London.
Then in October, two young women were arrested by the Met police for doing the same thing.
The Defend our Juries campaign has gathered powerful support from eminent professors of law, such as Professor Richard Vogler and Professor John Spencer.
The demonstrations come amid concern following a succession of jury acquittals, including the acquittal of the Colston four in January 2022
Defendants are banned from explaining the principle of ‘jury equity’ to the jury, even though it is a well established principle of law, which is set in marble at the original entrance to the Old Bailey.
In some cases, defendants have been banned by judges from mentioning the climate crisis.
Explaining why they are prepared to risk arrest for this legal principle Linda Davidsen, 54, a concerned citizen, from Northampton said: “I’m doing this because it’s so important that the legal system does not stop people from telling the whole truth in court, and does not stop jurors from making the decision they think is right when they have all the information. Our society often seems to allow those in power to lie with impunity, but the truth - the whole truth – ought to matter.
"At times like these, it is more important than ever that rights which have been enshrined in law for hundreds of years are not abandoned.
“It is simply wrong for the court to suppress evidence to make a guilty verdict more likely. That is interfering with justice, If jurors do not have the full facts they can’t
reach a true verdict. If they do not know they have the right to reach decisions on their conscience, their right is being denied as a juror.”
Dr Alan Heath, 48, a scientist from Kettering said; “Juries are a common sense check on the law.
“The right of juries to acquit a defendant according to their conscience has been enshrined in British law for centuries, and we must protect it. I am here to send a clear message to judges that the public won’t stand for the important role jurors have being made a mockery of.
“Let our juries hear the whole truth and let them reach a fair and true verdict without judicial interference!”