14 Nottingham citizens took part in a growing public campaign called Defend Our Juries.
The silent protest was one of over 50 others today outside Crown Courts across England and Wales involving around 500 people.
Local people risked arrest by holding up signs outside Nottingham Crown Court containing the words “The Right of Juries to give their verdict according to their convictions”
This is a reference to a law carved into a stone plaque displayed at the Old Bailey. The plaque commemorates a trial held in 1670 where the jurors acquitted the defendants despite the judge directing a guilty verdict. The story of this case is taught to legal students today.
Recently some Judges have been banning protesters from explaining the motivation for their actions. In some cases, people have even been sent to prison for simply using the words ‘climate change’ and ‘fuel poverty’ in Court.
“Defendants should be able to tell the jury the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Isn’t that what you swear to do in Court? How can the jurors make a decision without the full facts!?” said Amanda Pumo, 64, a retired therapist from Gedling.
In London earlier this year, Trudi Warner, 68 was arrested and is now being prosecuted for holding up a similar sign. Another 40 people who repeated this action in support of Trudi now risk similar treatment for “attempting to pervert the course of justice” and “contempt of court”. All face substantial prison sentences if they are convicted.
Pete Strauss. 64, a retired headteacher from Rushcliffe said:
“If the government and the courts try to stop us protesting peacefully, then it is our duty – as citizens – to take action to defend our democratic rights.”
Ben Homfray, 57, a Mental Health Nurse from Sherwood Rise said: “I thought the British justice system was fair and just, but what’s actually happening these days is more like some kind of oppressive state”.
“Why aren’t juries trusted to be told exactly what their powers are?” askes Richard Vogler, Professor of Comparative Criminal Law and Criminal Justice, University of Sussex in an article published in The Barrister magazine. He concludes “since many climate campaigners have now been denied the right to present a defence based on their actual beliefs, where better than outside a trial court to remind jurors, politely, accurately and in a passive, non-confrontational way, of the fundamental common law duties and obligations which they must uphold on behalf of all of us”
People can find out more by going to defendourjuries.org