Shropshire Star

Letters defending rights of juries sent by protesters prepared to go to prison for their actions

A group of Shropshire residents have sent a letter to the UK Solicitor General, Robert Courts, calling for themselves to be prosecuted for standing up for the rights of juries.

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Some of the protestors sending their letters

They join 300 people across the UK who today signed and posted similar letters in solidarity with Trudi Warner, a 68-year-old retired social worker who is being prosecuted by the Solicitor General for holding a sign describing the rights of juries outside Inner London Crown Court in March 2023.

They say the decision to prosecute is an attack on the fundamental principles of common law justice.

Speaking on behalf of the Shropshire group, Broseley resident Kris Welch said: "We sent this letter this morning because we are worried that a very basic and fundamental right of our jury system is being removed.

"In some courts, some defendants are no longer allowed to explain the motive for their actions to the jury. From this, it follows that the jury cannot exercise their right to find a defendant not guilty if they consider that the defendant's actions were necessary and just in the circumstances.

"This may apply to only a small number of cases, but to remove it, as some judges are doing, is to reduce the jury to becoming a rubber stamp for the wishes of a judge."

"This is why I have been a sign holder outside court, why I have taken the exact same action as Trudi Warner and why I have sent a letter to the Solicitor General with my name on it, along with the names of hundreds of other equally concerned citizens."

In early December last year around 500 people across England and Wales – including from Shropshire – reproduced Trudi Warner's protest, standing outside Crown Courts holding the same signs. The police accepted this peaceful protest and no arrests were made.

Now 300 people who joined that protest are pushing the Solicitor General further by signing an open letter actively calling for themselves to be prosecuted for their actions.

Gill Davis, a grandmother and retired childcare advisor from Much Wenlock, said: "A jury can only exercise their full power if they know the full facts, and that must include the motivation and context of the defendant."

The Shropshire residents say while they do not want to go to prison, they are willing to if necessary in order to highlight what is happening to civil liberties in the UK.

Kate Griffith, a retired accountancy clerk from Much Wenlock, said: "My nine-year-old grandson recently wrote a letter to his MP saying 'The climate emergency is the most important issue of our time and will define the rest of my life. My granny has been protesting about the climate and keeps getting arrested and I need you to stop this.' The current intention of the Solicitor General to prosecute Trudi Warner for holding a sign advocating the centuries old right of juries is designed to silence climate protesters like me. I’m with Trudi Warner."