QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
Strand, London, WC2A 2LL
B e f o r e :
MR JUSTICE SWEENEY
| Her Majesty's Attorney General
|- and -
|Her Majesty's Attorney General
|- and -
John Cooper QC & Richard Furlong (instructed by Ledgisters Solicitors) for the Respondent Beard
Hearing date: 23 July 2013
Crown Copyright ©
President of the Queen's Bench Division:
This is the judgment of the court.
"... the power of the court to commit for contempt where the conduct complained of is specifically intended to impede or prejudice the administration of justice. Such an intent need not be expressly avowed or admitted, but can be inferred from all the circumstances, including the foreseeability of the consequences of the conduct. Nor need it be the sole intention of the contemnor. An intent is to be distinguished from motive or desire..."
In the same case Lloyd LJ made clear that there was no room for a state of mind which fell short of intention. He continued at page 383 by saying:
" that intent may exist, even though there is no desire to interfere with the course of justice. Nor need it be the sole intent. It may be inferred, even though there is no overt proof. The more obvious the interference with the course of justice, the more readily will the requisite intent be inferred."
i) The juror knew that the judge had directed that the jury should not do a certain act.
ii) The juror appreciated that that was an order.
iii) The juror deliberately disobeyed the order.
iv) By doing so the juror risked prejudicing the due administration of justice.
I: The case in relation to Mr Davey
(a) The facts
"Woooow I wasn't expecting to be in a jury Deciding a paedophile's fate, I've always wanted to Fuck up a paedophile & now I'm within the law!"
He had about 400 Facebook friends; two of those friends had approved of his comment by using a smiley a thumbs up sign.
"I have reason to believe someone who has been selected for jury service at your court has been posting about the case on the social networking site Facebook."
The e-mail then set out what had been posted and gave the name of the person who had posted it as Mr Davey.
(b) The directions given to Mr Davey about the use of the internet and social media
"Important The judge will tell you that you DO NOT discuss the evidence with anyone outside of your jury either face to face, over the telephone or over the internet via social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter or Myspace. If you do this, you risk disclosing information, which is confidential to the jury."
"Please do not discuss the details of the trial with anyone other than your fellow jurors, not even your family."
"Do not speak to anyone at all about the cases you hear."
"Do not use social networking sites to post any aspects of your jury service."
In addition the jury manager at the court in the course of her speech to new jurors told them:
"You will be informed by every judge whatever court you go into that you DO NOT discuss the evidence with anyone outside of your number either face to face or over the telephone or over the internet via chat lines such as Facebook or Myspace."
"You must not use social networking sites to post details about any aspect of your jury service or about the discussion and decisions made by you and your fellow jurors whilst in deliberation.
You may also be in Contempt of Court if you use the internet to research details about any cases you hear along with any other cases listed for trial at the Court."
"One, you do not discuss this case outside your number. That is a major responsibility and one which is easy for me to say but harder to put into effect. But it means that if your partner, your work colleague asks you tonight, at perhaps your Christmas party, "What is it all about at Wood Green Crown Court?" you politely, and firmly, say, "The first thing the Judge said to us was that we mustn't discuss this at all until it is all over." I am not going to repeat that. It is obvious. It is a particular responsibility of being a juror.
Next: use of the Internet. There have been problems. Jurors have become detectives in their own court. And here is the sort of problem. Last week, at Kingston Crown Court, a seven-week trial had to be aborted because the jurors started on the Internet and Googling people, and the judge found out because the other jurors reported the errant juror. Seven weeks I dread to think what it cost, in a country which will ill afford the waste of, say, half-a-million pounds. Now, this case won't cost that money because it is a very short case, but you see the problem we have .
So don't Google me, don't Google the Advocates, don't Google the Defendant, or any witness in the case because that would be wholly improper, because you would be going outside the observations your oath or your affirmation (your solemn affirmation) to try the case according to the evidence.
If you said to me, "What is the biggest threat to trial by jury in this country?" I would say to you, "No question: improper use of the Internet by jurors. No question".
We can all find out vast amounts of very helpful and totally useless information on the Internet. Don't do it. By all means, do your Christmas shopping on the Internet. Book your holiday (if you are lucky enough to be going on one next year), but don't use the Internet improperly. The message is loud. It is clear. I don't propose to repeat it, but I expect you to behave responsibly because you are judges."
(c) Mr Davey's explanation in his evidence to us
(d) The submissions on behalf of Mr Davey
(e) Our findings
(g) Our conclusion
II: The case in relation to Mr Beard
(a) The evidence adduced by the Attorney General
"I have to say it is with the greatest reluctance, but nevertheless I am driven to decide that this material and indeed on the evidence that has already supplied, I take the view that the whole jury must be discharged. This material is highly prejudicial, it has clearly been disseminated, that figure of 1,800 which is taken from even if it was just the figure itself, that seems to be enough to be of a level of prejudice which would mean these defendants would not receive a fair trial. It is overwhelmingly prejudicial to hear it at this stage. Mr Holland says: "Well, they may hear that anyway." Well, that may be so, but I am deciding it now on the situation and I do so with the greatest reluctance, but I am afraid to say that my view is that the whole jury will have to be discharged and this trial will have to start again. There are various problems about that which I will indicate."
"I did not discuss the case for which I sat as a juror for between 1st October 2012 and 9th November 2012 with any individual nor have I researched any information pertaining to the case which was forbidden in the guidelines given to us jurors.
Therefore, I do not believe I have acted in contempt of court on any occasion."
(b) The directions given to Mr Beard
"Discussing Trials Judges Directions
Every Judge will tell you whatever court you go to that you do not discuss the evidence with anyone outside of your number either face to face, over the telephone or over the internet via chat lines such as Face book or MySpace. If you do this you risk disclosing information which is confidential to the jury. Each of you owes a duty of confidentiality to the other jurors, to the parties and to the court. The only place you can discuss the evidence is when all 12 of you are in the jury room at the conclusion of the case."
" and it has been known, members of the jury, of people going on the internet and looking things up. Please do not do that in relation to this case, it has led to disasters in the past. I have actually had a case of a juror just trying to help out, who went on the internet to look up something and the whole case had to stop and it was a disaster. That juror was only just trying to help, in fact wrote a note saying: "Oh, I've managed to find out about them." Oh, dear, no, we cannot have that. It has to be just from there, just the evidence that is put before you upon which you make your decisions.
So I am afraid to say by all means, you will be going on the internet some of you I am sure, but do not make any enquiries or seek any other evidence through that source of any other source. Indeed, you may have heard about the juror who went on Twitter or is it Facebook I am afraid I am on neither I may be discussed there, but I am not on either and the whole case well, I think it undermined the whole case and that juror was actually sent to prison for doing that; that is how serious the courts see it. You may remember the case. I am not saying that is going to happen here, but that is how seriously it is now seen, because one can access all sorts of things on the internet and indeed in other ways. But, as I say, do not do anything like that because that would obviously endanger the case and make life very difficult for everybody. It is only the evidence you hear here, or see, or take on board by way of agreement, that is evidence you decide the case upon, and nothing else."
(c) The account of Mr Beard
(d) The submissions on behalf of Mr Beard
(e) Our findings
(e) Our conclusion