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High Court judge blocks contempt of court action against woman who held up a sign

A HIGH COURT judge has refused to allow contempt proceedings against a retired social worker who held up a sign outside a court where Insulate Britain activists were due to be tried.

Trudi Warner, from Walthamstow, East London, told of her relief following today’s ruling.

She was arrested on March 27 last year and accused of “deliberately targeting” the jury by holding up a placard outside an entrance used by jurors at Inner London Crown Court.

The sign read: “Jurors you have an absolute right to acquit a defendant according to your conscience.”

Rendering judgement at the Royal Courts of Justice, Mr Justice Saini said he would not give the Solicitor General permission to pursue proceedings against Ms Warner as she had “accurately informed potential prospective jurors about one of their legal powers.”

He said that her conduct did not amount to an “actionable contempt,” noting there is a “tension which the law tolerates” between the principle of jury equity (the capacity of a jury to return a verdict according to conscience), their duties in the oaths or affirmations they make and their obligation to follow judicial directions.

“The proper forum for the Solicitor General to address this concern is Parliament, not by way of contempt proceedings,” he said.

“Overall, in my judgement, the claim is based on a mischaracterisation of what Ms Warner did that morning and a failure to recognise that what her placard said outside the court reflects essentially what is regularly read on the Old Bailey plaque by jurors – and what our highest courts recognise as part of our constitutional landscape.”

Lawyers for the Solicitor General Robert Courts, a senior government legal officer, asked the High Court last Thursday for a green light to proceed with action against Ms Warner due to “serious interference” with the “administration of justice.”

Holding the sign which started the events, Ms Warner said she was “particularly pleased” that the decision will help others coming up before the courts, before adding: “I just wanted to help.

“When you see a letter that says government department versus Trudi Warner, and when you have an indictment which is 133 pages, it’s intimidating.

“I simply want jurors to know their rights.”

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