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Monthly Archives: January 2024

The Online Safety Act 2023 creates a new offence of encouraging or assisting serious self-harm. The offence applies from 31 January 2024.

What is the new offence?

A person commits an offence if:

  • they do a relevant act capable of encouraging or assisting the serious self-harm of another person;
  • and their act was intended to encourage or assist the serious self-harm of another person.

“Serious self-harm” means self-harm amounting to, in England and Wales and Northern Ireland, grievous bodily harm within the meaning of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861.

The Act defines the means of communication by which a person “does a relevant act”, which includes in-person or electronic communications, publications, correspondence, and the sending or giving of items with stored electronic data.

The offence carries a maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment.

serious self-harm

Why is this offence needed?

The government explained the need for a new offence in these terms:

“I am aware of particular concerns around content online which encourages vulnerable people to self-harm. While the child safety duties in the bill will protect children, vulnerable adults may remain at risk of exposure to this abhorrent content. I am therefore committing to making the encouragement of self-harm illegal. The government will bring forward in this bill proposals to create an offence of sending a communication that encourages serious self-harm.

This new offence will ensure that trolls sending such messages to a person, regardless of the recipient’s age, face the consequences for their vile actions.”

The new offence appears to have strong support from interest groups.

The Molly Rose Foundation, a suicide-prevention charity aimed at young people, said it also supported the proposed new offence. The charity was established by the friends and family of Molly Russell, a 14-year-old girl who took her own life after viewing images promoting suicide and self-harm. In September 2022 a coroner ruled that content Molly had viewed relating to depression, self-harm and suicide “had contributed to her death in a more than minimal way”. The foundation said the proposed new offence would be a “significant move”.

Contact an expert criminal solicitor

 Our role is to keep up to date with changes to existing criminal laws and brand new criminal legislation.  If you are arrested or face court proceedings for a criminal matter you will wish to take advice from an experienced criminal lawyer.

We have offices across the East Midlands in Nottingham, Derby, Mansfield, Chesterfield and .  Please contact the one closest to you.

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Monthly Archives: January 2024

There has been a lot of press coverage following reports before Christmas that the Court of Appeal had freed a woman prisoner due to her being pregnant.  The issue is regularly in the news, as shown by this story from 2022.  Some uncharitably view pregnancy as a potential ‘get out of jail free’ card.

The lady had previously received a mandatory five-year minimum term for a firearms offence, so the revelation that the sentence was reduced to two years imprisonment and suspended sparked some surprise.

pregnancy as mitigation

As with all stories like this, it is wise to refrain from commenting before the full facts are disclosed, and following the release of the appeal judgment, it is now known, perhaps not surprisingly, that this is a somewhat exceptional case.

Unknown to anyone at the original sentencing hearing, including the appellant herself, she was then pregnant. The fresh evidence showed that the appellant learned of her pregnancy only when she underwent routine testing upon her admission to HMP Bronzefield after she had been sentenced. Her pregnancy was therefore a fact existing at the time of the sentencing hearing, and one which would undoubtedly have been an important factor in the recorder’s decision if it had then been known.

That factor in itself is somewhat unremarkable, and it is important to note that there were particular circumstances relating to this lady that the Court of Appeal focussed on.

Pregnancy as mitigation

The individual circumstances of this pregnancy included:

  1. A family history of premature labour suggesting familial predisposition and therefore enhanced risk for the appellant, and repeated episodes of antepartum bleeding of unknown origin (‘ABUO’) during this pregnancy. ABUO episodes are clinically significant indicators of heightened likelihoods of serious complications including miscarriage, premature birth, low birth weight, placental abruption, foetal distress and hyperbilirubinemia.
  2. Incarceration therefore created for the appellant a real and present danger to safe delivery and proper neonatal development for her baby.
  3. A personal history of a very traumatic previous pregnancy loss, the detail of which it is unnecessary to set out here, and other previous trauma including domestic abuse, as well as a history of anxiety and depression intensifying the appellant’s vulnerability to mental health deterioration under the stress of pregnancy, labour and neonatal care in a prison setting.
  4. Incarceration whilst pregnant for this appellant, therefore, has been and would be frightening, disorientating and traumatic in a way that was far beyond any unavoidable norm.
  5. The recent development of pre-eclampsia, a condition which was diagnosed in the days before the hearing and which requires a level of monitoring and a reliable means of rapid specialist intervention that present particular challenges in the prison setting, which has added to the appellant’s fears for her own health and for her unborn child.


There was strong personal mitigation in this case apart from the various ways, not limited to its particular, much heightened health risks, why this pregnancy made imprisonment an unusually onerous punishment for this appellant.

The Court concluded:

“…we are satisfied that when the appellant’s pregnancy and its specific attendant consequences and risks, for the appellant and her unborn baby, are added to the other personal mitigation available to the appellant, there are exceptional circumstances relating to the appellant and her particular offence that, taken together, render it unjust to impose a custodial term of at least 5 years. The experience of custody was going to be, and has proved, traumatic and dangerous for this appellant beyond any kind of norm. By the date of the appeal hearing, she had in fact served the equivalent of a 14-month sentence, but the weight of punishment that has constituted for her will have been qualitatively equivalent to a much stiffer sentence. There are impeccable prospects of rehabilitation, and the interests of the appellant’s unborn child are a weighty factor if, as we have concluded, a sufficient custodial term, unconstrained by the statutory minimum, would be 2 years or shorter.

In all those circumstances, and on balance, we concluded that it was in the interests of justice to take the very exceptional course, for an offence of possessing the weapon involved in this case, of suspending the appellant’s sentence.”

It can be seen from the factual analysis of this case that pregnancy does not mean immunity from a custodial sentence. However, in all cases, pregnancy as mitigation will be an influential factor to be taken into account, which is why, in all such cases, our experienced lawyers are equipped to present a compelling case to any sentencing court.

Contact an expert criminal lawyer

Part of our preparation for sentence will be to discuss with you what information can be out before the court to mitigate sentence or secure a non-custodial sentence.  Pregnancy as mitigation is perhaps unusual but will of course be an important factor in any case.

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We have criminal lawyers based in Chesterfield, Mansfield, Nottingham, Derby and Newark.  The contact details are here.

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Monthly Archives: January 2024

Since 29th November 2022 a court can impose a positive requirement on a defendant under an SHPO (section 175 of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022).

This, says the government, includes a requirement to participate in polygraph testing for sex offenders.

polygraph testing for sex offendersIn a recent case the Court of Appeal confirmed that there was no objection in principle to a Polygraph testing requirement, but certain safeguards would need to be observed. The Court rejected challenges to such orders under Articles 6 & 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

These safeguards are:

  • That the court must receive evidence about the suitability and enforceability of such a requirement from the individual or an individual representing the organisation who is specified to supervise.
  • As with SOPOs, no order should be made by way of SHPO unless necessary to protect the public from sexual harm as set out in the statutory language.
  • If an order is necessary, then the prohibitions imposed must be effective; if not, the statutory purpose will not be achieved.
  • Any  SHPO prohibitions imposed must be clear and realistic. They must be readily capable of simple compliance and enforcement. It is to be remembered that breach of a prohibition constitutes a criminal offence punishable by imprisonment.
  • As re-stated by R v NC [2016], none of the SHPO terms must be oppressive and, overall, the terms must be proportionate.
  • Finally, any SHPO must be tailored to the facts.

There is no one size that fits all factual circumstances.


It is clear that before imposing polygraph testing for sex offenders there must be the utmost level of scrutiny to ensure it is necessary and proportionate. All of our advocates are trained in this area of law and will ensure that there is an objection to any inappropriate terms being included in such orders.

Contact a specialist in defending sexual offence

We are experience in representing those charged with sexual offences before the Magistrates’ and Crown Courts.  You can read about how we prepare a case for Crown Court trial here.

Contact your nearest office for advice prior to any police interview or if charged with an offence.

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Monthly Archives: January 2024

On 28th October 2023 provisions in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 came into effect, enacting changes to the laws in relation to the rehabilitation of offenders.

These amendments extend the scope of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act as it applies to England and Wales so that certain custodial sentences of over four years currently excluded from rehabilitation may become spent, unless imposed in respect of certain offences.

It also amends the times at which different sentences may become spent and makes provision on the face of the Act for the rehabilitation periods that apply to certain orders on conviction.

The government states that over 120,000 former offenders will find it easier to get work and turn their lives away from crime following this change in the law.

Key Changes

Custodial sentences of four years or more years for less serious crimes become ‘spent’ after a seven-year period of rehabilitation, as long as no further offence is committed.

Some of the more serious sexual, violent, and terrorist offences are excluded from these changes.

The new rehabilitation periods are as follows:

Sentence Adults Under 18s
(Adult) Community Order/Youth Rehabilitation Order The last day on which the order has effect The last day on which the order has effect
Custody of 1 year or less 1 year 6 months
Custody of more than 1 year and up to 4 years 4 years 2 years
Custody of more than 4 years* 7 years 3.5 years

*excluding serious sexual, violent, or terrorist offences, that continue to never be spent

Previous rehabilitation periods were:

Sentence Adults Under 18s
(Adult) Community Order/Youth Rehabilitation Order 1 year beginning with the last day on which the order has effect 6 months beginning with the last day on which the order has effect
Custody of 6 months or less 2 years 18 months
Custody of more than 6 months and up to 30 months 4 years 2 years
Custody of more than 30 months and up to 4 years 7 years 3.5 years
Custody of more than 4 years Conviction is never spent Conviction is never spent

The actual detail of these changes can be quite complex, so do not hesitate to contact us to discuss the direct implications of these changes on your own circumstances.

How can we help?

 We will provide advice on the effect of any sentence.  This will be done at the conclusion of proceedings.  If you need further advice then please contact your nearest office.  Our experienced criminal solicitors will be happy to help.

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Monthly Archives: January 2024

The Dangerous Dogs (Designated Types) (England and Wales) Order 2023 was laid before parliament on 31 October 2023, which has important implications for the owners of the dog breed “XL Bully”. This statutory instrument will be accompanied by other legislative changes that form a package of laws that will fundamentally change the ownership rules in respect to this dog breed.

xl bully

The government says that the principal objective is to introduce controls on the existing population of the this dog type to reduce the risk that they pose to public safety and to reduce the overall number of these dogs in the dog population.

The government has published an official definition of the XL Bully Breed.  If you are in any doubt as to the breed of your own dog you should seek expert veterinary advice as soon as possible.

What are the offences now?

Since 31 December 2023 the offences in section 1(2) of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 (“1991 Act”) have applied to the XL Bully type.

This will mean that all owners of dogs of the XL Bully type must keep their dogs on a lead and muzzled when in a public space.

It will also mean that anyone doing any of the following will be committing an offence under section 1(2) of the 1991 Act:

  • breeding, or breeding from, a dog of the XL Bully type.
  • selling, gifting or exchanging XL Bully type dogs (this will include rehoming).
  • abandoning or allowing XL Bully type dogs to stray.
  • advertising XL Bully type dogs for sale, exchange or gifting.

Offences from 1 February 2024

From 1 February 2024 it will be a criminal offence to own an XL Bully in England and Wales unless you have a Certificate of Exemption for your dog.

You will have until 31 January 2024 to apply for this exemption. Applications will be subject to a £92.40 application fee, to cover administration costs.

To keep an XL Bully dog you must ensure it is:

  • microchipped
  • kept on a lead and muzzled at all times when in public
  • kept in a secure place so it cannot escape

You will also need to neuter your dog. If your dog is less than one year old on 31 January 2024, it must be neutered by 31 December 2024. If your dog is older than one year old on 31 January 2024, it must be neutered by 30 June 2024.

As the owner, you must also:

  • be over 16 years old
  • take out insurance against your dog injuring other people – this is provided through Dogs Trust Membership
  • be able to show the Certificate of Exemption when asked by a police officer or a council dog warden, either at the time or within 5 days

Giving up an XL Bully dog to be euthanised

If you choose not to keep your XL Bully dog, you should take it to a registered vet for it to be euthanised.

You can claim £200 compensation towards the costs. You and your vet will need to fill in a compensation form to make a claim.

Contact one of our expert criminal lawyers

Our solicitors are able to advise you in relation to any aspect of the laws concerning animal ownership. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you are facing an investigation or prosecution.

Advice and representation in a police interview under caution will always be free of charge to you.

Legal Aid will often be available to defend court proceedings.

We have offices across the East Midlands.

Contact your nearest office here. 

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Monthly Archives: January 2024

The Single Justice Procedure (“SJP”) is designed to enable magistrates’ courts to deal with minor offences more efficiently, while still ensuring rigorous, open and fair justice. Whether those aims are in fact met is the subject of some intense debate, with a number of high-profile journalists consistently exposing weaknesses in the system.

535,000 cases were heard by magistrates via the Single Justice Procedure in 2020.

Problems have been raised with the transparency of the procedure and the unfairness of some of the outcomes have been highlighted.

How does it work?

SJP was introduced by the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015. It allows prosecutors – who decide whether a case should be taken through the procedure – to deal with cases involving adult defendants accused of lesser offences that cannot result in a prison sentence, such as speeding, driving without insurance, TV license evasion and train fare evasion.

single justice procedure

Defendants receive a notice containing the charge by post, with a statement setting out the facts of the offence and guidance on what steps to take, including their right to a lawyer. They have the option to plead guilty by post or online, or ask for a court hearing. There must be a hearing if they want to plead not guilty, but defendants sometimes ask for a hearing to plead guilty, for example if they want to argue against a driving ban.

If they plead guilty or do not respond within the 21-day time limit, their case will be dealt with through the SJP. If they plead not guilty or ask for a court hearing, the case goes to a hearing in open court. No defendant can be dealt with via the SJP against their will.

A single magistrate conducts SJP, advised by a professional lawyer dealing with the case on paper. There’s no prosecutor or defendant present. They can deal with the case at any time, rather than on a specific date.

The same law and principles apply to trials in a single justice procedure as a traditional trial. The prosecution must prove their case beyond reasonable doubt and their written evidence must satisfy the same rules as evidence in a trial in open court.

How was the Single Justice Procedure expanded?

From 4 January 2023, prosecutors can deal with non-imprisonable cases involving companies without the need to go to court.

For companies, non-imprisonable cases are for lesser offences, such as:

  • excess vehicle weight
  • lack of or incorrect operator’s licence
  • tachograph offences
  • failure to give identification of a driver

SJP will be the same for companies as it is for individuals. The decision as to whether to prosecute a company using SJP or in court is decided by the prosecutor.

As with all SJP cases, defendants can still choose to have their case heard in a court. They can also submit a plea on paper, rather than electronically, where needed.

When a company is a defendant, the plea and means forms must be signed by either a:

  • company secretary
  • company director
  • company solicitor

We recommend that any individual or company facing prosecution take early legal advice to secure the best outcome.

Contact one of our expert criminal lawyers

 We have offices across the East Midlands.  Should you receive paperwork relating to a court hearing you can find your nearest office here.

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Monthly Archives: January 2024

Newly published research suggests that pre-recorded evidence in chief and cross-examination, often referred to as “section 28 evidence”, may be more advantageous to the accused that live evidence given in court before a jury. Conviction rates are reported to be 10% lower when this type of evidence is used (and up to 20% lower in rape cases).

In the 7-year period June 2016 -June 2023, s28 recordings were used in 4392 cases, involving 4645 defendants and 28793 charges.

Key findings of the research

Contrary to suggestions made early on in the piloting of section 28, the existence of a s28 recording does not lead to more guilty pleas.

In fact a s28 recording is associated with fewer guilty pleas. The guilty plea rate in section 28 cases in 2016 to 2023 was 10%. This represents the percentage of guilty pleas on all charges in all pre-recorded evidence cases, and is the lowest guilty plea rate in the Crown Court.

The overall jury conviction rate on charges where this evidence was used is 61%. This shows that juries convict more often than acquit when this evidence is used. This analysis demonstrates that the view expressed in the 2023 Ministry of Justice section 28 Process Evaluation, that it would be impossible to know whether s28 evidence impacted juror decision-making or outcomes, is incorrect.

The jury conviction rate was almost 10% lower when pre-recorded evidence was used (61%) compared to when it was not used (70%), and the hung jury rate was 3 times higher with section 28 cases (2.3%) than without this evidence. (0.7%).

This lower conviction rate is regardless of:

  • whether the s28 witness is a child/vulnerable or an adult/intimidated,
  • whether the s28 witness is female or male, or
  • whether the offence is a sexual offence or a non-sexual offence.

In relation to rape offences in particular, jury conviction rates when s28 evidence is used are substantially lower for all types of rape offence, whether for adult or child rape offences.

In most instances, the jury conviction rate for rape offences is 20% lower when the complainants’ cross examination is pre-recorded compared to when the complainant’s cross examination is not pre-recorded.

The findings that jury conviction rates are consistently and substantially lower for all offences when section 28 evidence is used is very strong correlational evidence that juries experience pre-recorded cross examination differently than they do other forms of live cross examination.

The lower jury conviction rates with s28 suggest an “inequality of arms” between the main prosecution witness and defence witnesses in cases with s28 prerecorded cross examination. That is likely to be especially the case between the defendant and the main prosecution witness if the defendant chooses to give evidence live in a s28 case while all of the main witness’s evidence has been pre-recorded (evidence in chief recorded under s27 and cross-examination/re-examination pre-recorded under s28).

What influences jury decision-making in these cases?

  • No comparability between main prosecution witness and other witnesses including the defendant. The s28 witness is likely to be the only witness in a case where no evidence is presented live to the jury (either in court with or without a screen or via a remote link).
  • Timing of the main prosecution witness evidence. The evidence of the main witness for the prosecution is presented first; it is the first evidence a jury will see/hear; it will all be presented by video playback (twice); all other witness are likely to appear in person and appear after the witness with all pre-recorded evidence.
  • Evidence structured differently for s28 witnesses from any other witness. This includes (1) the s27 ABE evidence in chief recording that has to serve a dual purpose of an investigative tool for police at the start of a case and evidence in chief to a jury at the end and (2) often more limited and formalised cross examination when s28 is used.
  • Disjointed nature of evidence in chief and cross examination. This may arise for several reasons: because the ABE is primarily recorded for police evidence gathering purposes and not specifically for trial evidence purposes; because the s28 style of presentation and questioning is different from ABE and also different from other in-court cross examination of other witnesses; because the witness is likely to look and sound different in the s28 recording than in the s27 ABE recording given the differences in recording location, set up and time.
  • Poor quality of pre-recorded evidence. This may apply to both s27 ABE (evidence in chief) and s28 (cross-examination) evidence.
  • Poor quality of playback equipment in court. This can include poor audio (necessitating written transcripts for the jury and resulting in the jury looking at the transcript and not the witness), screens too far away, images too small within screens, etc., and may apply to either or both s27/ABE and s28 evidence.
  • Inherently weaker cases use s28. It is also a possibility that s28 is used in cases where the evidence needed for conviction is weaker than in cases that do not use s28, and this is what is producing lower jury conviction rates in s28 compared with non s28 cases.


The authors of the research argue that:

‘…it would be prudent for the police and CPS to routinely advise witnesses of the lower jury conviction rate when pre-recorded cross examination is used. That way witnesses, especially adult witnesses that would be capable of giving live evidence (either in court with or without screens or via live link), will be empowered to make their own informed decision about which if any special measures they require and wish to use in order to give their evidence.’

Contact us for pre-recorded evidence cases

Pre-recorded evidence is mainly used in Crown Court trials.  Seeking legal advice at the earliest opportunity will allow us to provide advice to you about the law and the evidence in either a police investigation or a prosecution.

If you have been interviewed by the police and face court proceedings we can make a real difference to the outcome of your case.

Legal aid may well be available to fund your defence at court.

Examples of how we will prepare your jury trial can be read here.

We have offices across the East Midlands and will happily travel across the country to provide representation types of offences.

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Monthly Archives: January 2024

Mr Bates vs. The Post Office – the story so far

The Post Office Horizon affair has been described as one of the UK’s most widespread miscarriages of justice. It has been a long, complicated and contested saga, involving a campaign for justice, various court cases, compensation schemes, and currently a public inquiry.

The recent docu-drama on ITV has focused public attention upon the scandal.

Bates vs the post officeBeginning in 1999, a number of postmasters (who run individual post offices) experienced difficulties with the Horizon Post Office computer system. The system had faults which showed false shortfalls on the accounts of postmasters. Because of the shortfalls reported by Horizon, some postmasters were suspended or had their contracts terminated, and others were prosecuted, convicted, and imprisoned (for example, for false accounting and fraud).

In 2016, a group of postmasters used a group litigation order (GLO) to take legal action against the Post Office for damages relating to the consequences from the faulty Horizon system. Following rulings from the High Court in the Bates vs The Post Office High Court case, the Post Office settled.

Post Office has identified a total of 700 convictions in cases it prosecuted between 1999 and 2015 in which Horizon computer evidence might have featured.

The total number of all overturned convictions as of 3 January 2024 is 93This includes five cases in which Post Office was not the prosecutor.

More than £32.4 million has been paid in compensation to date, including 30 full and final settlements.

Convictions data (as of 8 January 2024)

Total relevant convictions (1999 – 2015) 700
Number of completed appeal cases 142
Number of convictions overturned 88
Number of convictions upheld/ cases refused permission to appeal or withdrawn from Court 54
Number of cases currently with Appeal Courts 5
Number of people with relevant convictions not yet contacted – so far unable to be located and require further tracing 25

For whatever reason, some 500 or more victims of this appalling scandal have yet to have their convictions overturned. Whilst some may well be guilty of theft or other offences, it is generally accepted that the vast majority were not.

Understandably, many people may wish to forget this period in their lives, in part perhaps due to a deep mistrust of the criminal justice system.

The slow pace of providing justice for the postmasters increases the harm that has been caused, and some are calling for more radical measures, including an Act of Parliament to wipe convictions from the record.

If you are affected by this scandal and wish to discuss your legal options, then please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Contact an expert criminal defence lawyer to advise on appeal

We have offices across the East Midlands and will happily travel across the country to provide representation for all types of offences.

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Monthly Archives: January 2024

At VHS Fletchers, we recognise the key to providing a good service to our clients is being able to work as a team and provide a quick and reliable service.

derby criminal lawyers
Our Derby lawyers escape for Christmas

Our ability to work as a team was certainly put to the test by our Derby criminal lawyers when they went to Make Your Escape, the immersive escape room experience in Derby.   As part of the Derby office Christmas celebrations they took on the challenge of the ‘Spellbound’ escape room with a difficulty rating of 5 out of 5.

According to the escape room staff, this was one of the most difficult rooms in the Midlands to escape from.   No other team had managed to negotiate the various clues and spells to escape on that day.

Our Derby lawyers Denney Lau, Nicola Hunter, Sarah Green, Georgia Collins, Chloe Wright, Siobhan Moore and Patrick Fisher and the team managed to escape in a record time of 46 mins 45 seconds, leaving nearly 15 minutes to spare.  On the night our team was supplemented by Dan Church, who had recently left employment with us to return to the independent bar.

There was no better way to illustrate the team spirit that can be found at our Derby office and their fast thinking in a difficult and pressured situation.  You’ll agree that the ability to think on your feet is a key attribute to successful legal representation.

Contact one of our Derby criminal lawyers

Now that they are free to continue to provide 24 hour advice and representation at police stations and at court, should you require our services than contact details can be found here.

Our advice and assistance in police interview will always be free of charge to you, and legal aid is often available for Magistrates’ and Crown Court representation.  We can assist you with application.

Alternatively, to contact us, you can use the form below:


Monthly Archives: January 2024

Juror Bias?

juror biasAny avid fan of American courtroom drama will be familiar with the idea of lawyers using ingenious methods to try and select a favourable jury panel. In England and Wales, the scope for objection is minimal, and in most cases, the jurors chosen to sit will remain on the case until it is over.

Many defendants may question the potential for juror bias in situations where the type of crime being tried has impacted a juror.

R v Skeete

This issue arose in a recent Court of Appeal case of R v Skeete when the jury sent a note to the Judge in these terms:

“There is a concern from a member of the jury that two other members of the jury have close personal experience of sexual assault and rape – and whether this has influenced their verdict. Is this a concern?”

The judgment records the following:

“…[the Judge] heard full argument from both sides in relation to the application by Ms Thomas for discharge of the entire jury. Her argument in summary was: the note sent on the afternoon of 20 January indicated the possibility of bias on the part of one or more jurors; it would be essential to establish the facts in relation to such bias were the trial to continue; that could not be done since the jury were in retirement and, on the face of it, had reached a verdict; the only safe course was to discharge the jury.

The prosecution submitted that discharge of the jury without any further step being taken was inappropriate. Rather, the jury should be given further directions to ensure that they decided the case only on the evidence.”

In this case, the Judge declined to discharge the jury.  The defendant was subsequently convicted.

The Court of Appeal decided that:

  1. On the face of it the note was penned by a spokesperson – possibly the person who was to deliver the verdict – reporting the position in relation to other members of the jury.
  2. Its natural meaning was that, at some point during the jury’s deliberations, two members of the jury had explained that they had close personal experience of sexual assault and rape.
  3. A third member of the jury had expressed a concern that this experience could have influenced the verdict of the two members of the jury.
  4. This concern was not expressed in terms of any direct assertion that it had led to an influence nor was the nature of the supposed influence explained.
  5. The jury note in this instance did not make any direct assertion of bias. It raised a concern that, in a case where the allegation was rape, the personal experience of jurors might have influenced their view of the case. The concern was expressed in vague and imprecise terms.
  6. The evidence was that two members of the jury had particular personal experiences. The fact that they mentioned them at some point when they were trying an allegation of rape of itself does not indicate bias. The jury note did not provide evidence that jurors were not staying true to their oaths. Rather, it expressed a generalised concern of one juror in the light of what the other jurors had revealed of their personal experience.

In conclusion, the court ruled that:

“In our view the facts as presented to the judge did not require him to discharge the entire jury.”

In so finding, the appeal against conviction was rejected.

Seek our expert advice on Crown Court trials

Seeking legal advice at the earliest opportunity will allow us to provide advice to you about the law and the evidence in either a police investigation or a prosecution.

If you have been interviewed by the police and face court proceedings we can make a real difference to the outcome of your case.

Legal aid may well be available to fund your defence at court.


Examples of how we will prepare your jury trial can be read here.

We have offices across the East Midlands and will happily travel across the country to provide representation types of offences.

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