I was called up for jury service in the early 90s. I was in my mid 20s. After hearing the evidence in the first case I was assigned to, the jury retired to deliberate.
A middle-aged man volunteered to be the foreman of the jury; I and the other 10 were quite happy for him to take the role.
Once that was agreed, he asked: “Who doesn’t think the defendant is guilty?”
One juror made some comments but was soon made to see he was wrong and we all agreed vey quickly on the guilty verdict and called the clerk.
The reason for sharing this story is to hopefully shed some light on the recent decision to acquit the Extinction Rebellion activists of criminal damage at Southwark Crown Court last week despite the video evidence showing them damaging windows at HSBC’s offices.
I can only speculate but I would not be surprised if one or two members of the jury were either members of a climate activist group or work in a sector or department of a company that concerns itself with the ‘climate catastrophe’. They could just be someone that only uses the BBC for their information.
As evidenced by my own experience, it would not take much for a vocal member of the jury to volunteer himself as foreman and push the jury to the verdict that he himself wants.
The fact that this jury made requests including an explanation of the Paris Climate Agreement and information on what the British Government has done to address the climate crisis suggests there may have been some dissenting jurors that needed to be persuaded to agree to acquit.
I have not seen it reported that the jury requested any information that may have countered the idea that there is a climate crisis which would indicate that the jury was being led by someone sympathetic to the defendant’s cause.
If the jury decided to acquit based on the assumption that the defendant’s actions were necessary to prevent the world ending, why didn’t it request any information that opposed this idea in order to have a balanced view?
Why did the jury not ask for information about the additional emissions that would be generated by the manufacture, transportation and replacement of the broken windows?
If the defendants really believed that emissions were about to send the planet over the edge surely they would be too scared to increase them by even the tiniest amount?
These questions don’t appear to have been asked, which leads me to think that it is not speculation on my part.
This jury’s decision will no doubt lead to other activists damaging property in the name of their particular cause, with the expectation that a jury will acquit them too. But there will be a group in future that will be shocked to be found guilty as the one or two vocal jurors in their case are totally unsympathetic.