New Zealand Law Society - Two English jurors found in contempt of court

Two English jurors found in contempt of court

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Two jurors have been found guilty of contempt of court and sentenced to suspended prison terms in the English High Court.

A statement released by the United Kingdom Attorney-General's Office says James Smith was sentenced to 9 months imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, and ordered to pay a fine of £900 for disclosing the results of internet research to other members of the jury in a drugs case in Liverpool Crown Court in December 2014.

"Smith deliberately researched information including press articles about one of the defendants in the case on his mobile telephone," the statement says.

"He then disclosed the results with other members of the jury, directly ignoring the repeated direction of the judge not to conduct internet research. This led to the trial having to be abandoned, which resulted in the waste of approximately £80,000 of costs to the Court Service and Court Prosecution Service."

In the other case, juror Deborah Dean was sentenced to 3 months imprisonment, suspended for 12 months, after she wrote letters to two of the defendants after the trial had concluded and disclosed accounts of jury deliberations.

She was a juror in a trial in September and October 2014 involving five defendants facing various charges of rape, sexual exploitation for trafficking and sexual activity with a child.

"Dean sent two letters to Usman Ali (convicted of sexual activity with a child) and a letter to Shakeal Rehman (convicted of trafficking and rape). The letters came to light in the course of appeals against conviction and sentence being pursued by Mr Ali and Mr Rehman," the statement says.

Solicitor-General Robert Buckland QC MP instigated both contempt proceedings in 2015 and conducted the proceedings personally.