Contempt of Court

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Attorney-General – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 13th May 2014.

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Photo of Dominic Grieve Dominic Grieve The Attorney-General 11:30 am, 13th May 2014

I hope that the benefit of this change to the law will be to emphasise the criminal nature of the conduct of a juror who fails to follow the judge’s directions and acts in a way that undermines the fairness of a trial process. At the same time, by providing that it is an indictable offence that is triable by jury, there will be better safeguards for jurors in terms of fairness if they are prosecuted as a result. I trust that the combination of those two things will enable judges to be more robust in their directions to the jury at the outset when explaining that it has an important function to perform, and that that must be performed within the framework that the judge lays down in his directions. In my experience, jurors are, for the most part, animated entirely by good will towards the public interest, so I feel that if we do that, some of the regrettable problems that we have had may be further reduced.