Investigatory Powers Act 2016 – new powers

The Investigatory Powers (Amendment) Act 2024 received Royal Assent on 25 April 2024. The government has described the Act as: ‘New laws to protect our citizens from threats such as terrorism and child sexual abuse.’ Which will: ‘…ensure the intelligence services and law enforcement have the powers they need to keep pace with a range … Continued

Jury Equity – A verdict of conscience The recent case of HM Solicitor General v Trudi Warner has shone a light on a little-known but now increasingly prominent issue of “jury equity”. The issue is neatly summarised in this part of the judgment: The trial of a number of defendants affiliated with the environmental group Insulate Britain was due to begin at Inner London Crown Court on Monday 27 March 2023. Between 8am and 9am, in the area near the entrance to that court used by judges and jurors, Ms Warner carried a placard with the handwritten words: “JURORS YOU HAVE AN ABSOLUTE RIGHT TO ACQUIT A DEFENDANT ACCORDING TO YOUR CONSCIENCE”. The Claimant alleges in his Claim Form that Ms Warner “…deliberately targeted jurors with her sign, including in one case hurrying to catch up with a juror so as to draw attention to the sign and, in another case, walking alongside the juror while showing the sign”. It is alleged that in doing these acts, Ms Warner “…interfered with the rights of the jurors to go to and from court and perform their duties without let or hindrance, and thereby interfered with the administration of justice itself”. The Claimant says that these acts were done by Ms Warner with the specific intention of interfering with the administration of justice by seeking to influence the jurors and in particular to acquit climate change activists, whether or not such acquittal would be in accordance with the trial judge’s legal directions. The Solicitor General alleged that Warner was in contempt of court, but the court ruled in favour of Warner, protecting her rights to free speech (although strictly speaking the case was won on a different point) and also observing that any potential prejudice to a trial could be cured by a direction to the jury, with a prosecution not being a proportionate response. So, what does this mean in reality? The main point is that the court was merely recognising the reality of the jury system, in that it can return whatever verdict it wishes without consequence. In the words of the court: “As to jury equity, as I understand his case the Solicitor General appears to accept that juries have a power (of some nature) to return a verdict according to their conscience. Mr Eardley KC describes it in his skeleton argument as “a de facto power to acquit a defendant regardless of judicial directions, because they cannot be directed to convict and they cannot be punished for acquitting on conscientious grounds, but they have no right to do so” (his emphasis). There was some debate before me about whether this is a “power” or “right” of a jury. That is not ultimately helpful but I note that at the plaque in the Old Bailey (I return to this at [17] below) it is described as a “right”. It is probably best to describe jury equity as a principle of our law. It is an established feature of our constitutional landscape and has been affirmed, as set out below, in the highest courts.” However, that is not the same as suggesting that a jury ought to do that, and in fact, the court made very clear that jurors should follow the legal directions given. Significantly, it is clear that we will not see advocates addressing jurors in relation to this issue with the court ruling: “Counsel agreed that participants in the trial process cannot lawfully invite a jury to apply the principle of jury equity or indeed to inform them of it. That prohibition is how the common law squares the jury equity and the oath that jurors are required to swear. I was referred to the description of how the tension operates in the United States in the judgment of Judge Leventhal of the United States’ Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit in US v Dougherty 473 F2d 113. Judge Leventhal describes how in the United States the existence of an “unreviewable and unreversible power in the jury to acquit in disregard of the instructions on the law given by the trial judge, has for many years co-existed with legal practice and precedent upholding instructions to the jury that they are required to follow the instructions of the court on all matters of law” (at [1132]). This is also an accurate description of the position in our jurisdiction.” We are however very likely to see more protests like the one staged by Warner and potentially a great deal of “social media advocacy” in the coming months and years. Of course, that may work not only in favour of defendants but potentially against them, and we will be closely monitoring this issue on a case-by-case basis to ensure the fair trial of all those we represent. How can we help? We ensure we keep up to date with any changes in legislation and case law so that we are always best placed to advise you properly. If you would like to discuss any aspect of your case, please contact name on tel or email. Image credit: “Jury Duty” by zzpza is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

The recent case of HM Solicitor General v Trudi Warner has shone a light on a little-known but now increasingly prominent issue of “jury equity”. The issue is neatly summarised in this part of the judgment: The trial of a number of defendants affiliated with the environmental group Insulate Britain was due to begin at Inner London Crown … Continued

Should you represent yourself in court?

    Many people ask this question, either because they know they are not eligible for legal aid or perhaps think they are not eligible, even though they have not checked this with a solicitor. A recent study by Dr Charlotte Walker of York St John University revealed the following: “In this study, in Court … Continued

Government exploring toughening crossbow rules

    Under current legislation, it is illegal for anyone under 18 to purchase or possess a crossbow, and anyone who carries a crossbow in public without reasonable excuse faces up to four years behind bars. The government is considering going further, launching a call for evidence to ask whether these rules are tough enough. … Continued


  This week Nicholas Hawkes become the first person to be convicted for the new offence of “Cyber Flashing”. Hawkes sent unsolicited photos of his erect penis to a 15-year-old girl and a woman. The woman took screenshots of the image on WhatsApp and reported Hawkes to Essex Police the same day. Sefer Mani, of … Continued

Anti-Social Behaviour – You Could Lose Your Home

    There are lots of different offences that might be categorised as “anti-social behaviour”, and these are routinely prosecuted in the criminal courts. In many cases, the individual instances of criminality are towards the lower end of the scale. They are often met with punishment, such as a fine or low-level community order. If … Continued

Pregnant Prisoner – A Get Out of Jail Card?

  There has been a lot of press coverage following reports before Christmas that the Court of Appeal had freed a woman prisoner due to her being pregnant. The lady had previously received a mandatory five-year minimum term for a firearms offence, so the revelation that the sentence was reduced to two years imprisonment and … Continued

Immigration – Illegal Entry – A pointless deterrent ?

    Immigration – Illegal Entry  We have witnessed an increase in prosecutions for illegal entry into the UK or otherwise known as “small boat cases” . These are relatively arbitrary prosecution mounted against individuals selected for prosecution as a deterrent. The criteria as to who qualifies for prosecution is unclear.  The Nationality and Borders … Continued

Scanning of Prisoners – the story so far

  The introduction of X-ray body scanners (XRBS) as part of the Security Investment Programme includes installation of 75 scanners across 74 establishments by the end of March 2022. This initiative now covers the entire adult male closed prison estate. XRBS were installed in staggered waves over 15 months, with the first wave beginning in … Continued

Sexual Offences – Can the government afford its sentencing proposals

  The government is legislating to ensure that anyone sentenced for the offence of rape, and certain other serious sexual offences, no longer receives a determinate custodial sentence. Where neither a life sentence nor an extended sentence (‘EDS’) is served, the sentence will fall into the Sentence for Offenders of Particular Concern regime (‘SOPC’). A … Continued

“Tory Scum!” – Freedom of Speech?

In a recent case, the High Court was tasked with considering the implications of free speech in the context of public order offences. The case involved Tory MP Sir Iain Duncan Smith, who was subjected to abuse whilst in the street accompanied by his wife and a colleague. The prosecution case was that in the … Continued

Imprisonment & Family Life

  A prisoner with an earliest release date in August 2027 made an application to the Prison Service in relation to participation in fertility treatment. His partner unfortunately suffers from fertility problems, which include a low number of eggs, polycystic ovaries and a blocked and leaking right fallopian tube. Therefore, the couple wished to explore … Continued