Sun. May 26th, 2024
alert-–-protester,-69,-committed-contempt-of-court-by-using-a-sign-to-‘deliberately-target’-jurors-ahead-of-climate-change-trial-–-as-her-lawyer-tells-the-high-court-she-was-just-being-a-‘human-billboard’Alert – Protester, 69, committed contempt of court by using a sign to ‘deliberately target’ jurors ahead of climate change trial – as her lawyer tells the High Court she was just being a ‘human billboard’

A protester committed contempt of court by ‘deliberately targeting’ jurors when holding up a sign outside a court ahead of a trial of climate activists, the High Court has heard.

Trudi Warner was arrested on March 27 last year for holding up a sign outside an entrance used by jurors at Inner London Crown Court.

She carried out the move before a trial involving members of the climate group, Insulate Britain, with a sign that read: ‘Jurors you have an absolute right to acquit a defendant according to your conscience.’

Senior government legal officers are now asking the High Court for the green light to proceed with legal action against Ms Warner.

They say the retired social worker was guilty of contempt of court due to her ‘serious interference’ with the ‘administration of justice’.

Barristers for the Walthamstow resident argued today that her actions did not constitute an offence and claimed she merely acted as a ‘human billboard’.

Ever since the Attorney General’s Office announced its decision to take legal action against Ms Warner, campaigners have held placards outside every crown court across England and Wales in solidarity with the 69-year-old.

Trudi Warner was arrested on March 27 last year for holding up a sign outside an entrance used by jurors at Inner London Crown Court

Trudi Warner was arrested on March 27 last year for holding up a sign outside an entrance used by jurors at Inner London Crown Court

Ever since the Attorney General's Office announced its decision to take legal action against Ms Warner, campaigners have held placards outside every crown court across England and Wales in solidarity with the 69-year-old

Ever since the Attorney General’s Office announced its decision to take legal action against Ms Warner, campaigners have held placards outside every crown court across England and Wales in solidarity with the 69-year-old

In his written submissions, Aidan Eardley KC, representing Solicitor General Robert Courts for the Government, said Ms Warner ‘deliberately targeted’ jurors and encouraged them to ‘approach their task in a particular way’.

Speaking in court on Thursday, he said the incident was ‘a confrontation with jurors, calculated objectively, and intended subjectively, to tell them how to go about doing their job’.

READ MORE: Extinction Rebellion activists storm offices of major insurers and march through streets of the capital’s financial centre in protest over insurance for oil and gas projects

He added that the ‘public needs to know’ that they could perform their role as jurors ‘without being bombarded with instructions from bystanders about how they go about that task’.

Ms Warner was seen on CCTV outside the court for around half an hour on the morning of March 27, the first day of the trial, but did not speak to any members of the public.

Later that day outside the same court, she joined a protest over how the judge in the trial, Judge Silas Reid, had overseen previous trials of other Insulate Britain protesters.

Judge Reid had previously instructed jurors to decide the case according to the law and evidence and set aside any views they might have about climate change.

Mr Eardley said that while Ms Warner’s sign was ‘inaccurate as a matter of law’, her actions still constituted an offence and there was a ‘strong public interest’ in taking legal action against her.

He added on Thursday that Ms Warner said at the time: ‘I felt it was really important to get the word out directly that there is a higher authority than judges.’

The Attorney General’s Office announced its decision to take legal action against Ms Warner last September, which prompted hundreds of people to hold similar signs outside courts across the country in solidarity.

Several protesters held placards outside the Royal Courts of Justice again on Thursday.

Speaking to supporters outside court, Ms Warner thanked all the protesters who had showed their support

Speaking to supporters outside court, Ms Warner thanked all the protesters who had showed their support 

Extinction Rebellion Highgate descended on Wood Green Crown Court on Monday (April 15) as part of a Defend Our Juries campaign

Extinction Rebellion Highgate descended on Wood Green Crown Court on Monday (April 15) as part of a Defend Our Juries campaign

Protesters outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London ahead of Trudi Warner's hearing

Protesters outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London ahead of Trudi Warner’s hearing

Several protesters held placards outside the Royal Courts of Justice again on Thursday

Several protesters held placards outside the Royal Courts of Justice again on Thursday

Between April 13 and April 21, hundreds of people are gathering outside every crown court across England and Wales, in a bid to 'uphold the principle of jury equity'

Between April 13 and April 21, hundreds of people are gathering outside every crown court across England and Wales, in a bid to ‘uphold the principle of jury equity’

Extinction Rebellion Highgate descended on Wood Green Crown Court on Monday (April 15) as part of a Defend Our Juries campaign. 

Between April 13 and April 21, hundreds of people are gathering outside every crown court across England and Wales, in a bid to ‘uphold the principle of jury equity’. 

This relates to the capacity of a jury to acquit a defendant as a matter of conscience even if a judge directs that there is no defence. 

Ms Warner’s barristers told the court that it was not in the public interest to take legal action against her. 

They claimed she acted as a ‘human billboard’ to advertise a ‘vital constitutional, if occasionally used, safeguard against unjust prosecutions’.

Lawyer Clare Montgomery KC said: ‘The solicitor general has placed before the court an entirely false picture of what was taking place.

‘At no stage did Ms Warner direct, instruct, cajole or try to persuade any juror to disobey a direction of the judge.

‘The sign she had said what it said and did no more.’

‘It cannot in any circumstances give rise to any species of contempt,’ she added.

Mr Justice Saini said at the end of the hearing that he would give his judgment at 10.30am on Monday.

Speaking to supporters outside court, Ms Warner said: ‘I can’t say anything. I am only allowed to say thank you.

‘I don’t have to come on Monday, but I will, because I think I should be the first to know.’

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