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Latest 19 September 2023

Solicitor General launches proceedings for holding a placard

PA Images/ Alamy

Attorney General’s Office claims that a case against Trudi Warner, who could face up to two years in prison for reminding jurors of their rights, is ‘in the public interest’.

The Solicitor General has confirmed that the retired social worker Trudi Warner, who held up a sign at a London court, faces proceedings for contempt of court.

In March, Warner stood outside the building where climate protesters were on trial with a placard reading “Jurors: you have an absolute right to acquit a defendant according to your conscience.”

This legal right was established in 1670, after a judge imprisoned a jury for reaching a verdict he would not accept. Yet holding this sign was enough to put Warner in front of a judge at the Old Bailey – a building with a plaque at the entrance that declares the same legal right.

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The Solicitor General, the Government Minister Michael Tomlinson KC, threatened Warner with committal for contempt of court in July. He has now taken the decision to proceed, with a spokesperson for the Attorney General’s Office telling the Guardian he considers the case is “in the public interest”.

Warner described the Solicitor General’s conclusion as “Orwellian”.

“My action was to literally uphold the law,” she said. “This is a gross abuse of state power. It is a chilling attack on freedom of speech and should concern everyone.”

The decision comes as the Metropolitan Police issued demands for 12 protesters, who carried similar signs, to present themselves for interview. Twelve more protesters who also took action are now awaiting similar demands. We believe the proceedings against Warner form part of the Government’s chilling campaign to crack down on peaceful protest.

We are campaigning alongside Warner to help her fight this case and to raise awareness. Democracy is at stake if the Government’s restrictions are left unchallenged.

 

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