News

Protesters show solidarity with Walthamstow activist charged with contempt of court

15 protesters demonstrated outside Snaresbrook Crown Court in solidarity with Trudi Warner who is facing a contempt of court charge for holding up a sign

Credit: Defend our Juries

A protest outside Snaresbrook Crown Court took place today in solidarity with Walthamstow activist Trudi Warner and others who are facing contempt of court charges for holding signs advocating for jury independence.

According to organisers Defend Our Juries, around 15 people demonstrated outside the Court this morning. All held signs that professed the rights of jurors to acquit defendants based on their conscience, irrespective of the directions of the judge. The action was repeated at 49 other crown courts across England today.

Trudi, a 68-year-old retired social worker, could face two up to two years in prison or a fine for the charge of contempt of court for holding up a sign outside a climate trial earlier this year that stated: “Jurors: you have an absolute right to acquit a defendant according to your conscience.”   

Trudi had held the sign up as jurors arrived at a trial of Insulate Britain activists at Inner London Crown Court on 27th March. She had also challenged judge-imposed restrictions on the defendants that prevented them from mentioning climate change or property insulation in their defence.

In October, the Attorney General confirmed that Trudi would face prosecution.

Jakob Kiessling, a spokesman for Defend our Juries, told the Echo that protesters at 50 crown courts across the country protesters stood in “solidarity” with Trudi and others who are facing prosecution. He said that the protest was about “protecting the foundational right of juries” to acquit, which was established in 1670 after a judge imprisoned a jury for reaching a verdict he refused to accept.

Concern for the rights of jurors stem from a government appeal against the acquittal of four Black Lives Matter activists who toppled the statue of slave-owner Edward Colston in 2020. In its 2022 appeal decision, the Court of Appeal did not reverse the acquittal but ruled that protesters accused of “significant” criminal damage cannot rely on human rights protections when on trial.

Courts have subsequently rolled out bans on defendants explaining why they did what they did to the court, which has been seen as an infringement on the right of jurors to acquit based on their conscience.

In a letter to the October edition of the Echo, Trudi’s friend Juliette Brown wrote that “Trudi is paying the price for highlighting a pattern of repressive measures taken by judges towards activists”, and pointed to the same contempt of court charge being “made against numerous climate and social justice campaigners when they have attempted to explain their actions in court in recent months”.

Jakob told the Echo that “no date” had yet been set for Trudi’s trial.

Tags