Demonstrating their lack of comprehension and research, the hacks at the Murdoch Sun declared “After statue acquittals … JUDGES MUST END JURY ‘WOKENESS’ … Ministers may use a little-known power to stop ‘woke jurors’ blocking justice after the so-called Colston Four were cleared”. But justice was not blocked - acquittal is justice. What the Murdoch goons mean is that it isn’t the kind of justice that they want to see.
Moreover, once again we see “Woke” used as a pejorative, a term of sneering abuse: the word means “Alert to injustice in society, especially racism”. So one should hope that every last juror is Woke. After all, the press wouldn’t want to see injustice prevail. Would they? Well, maybe the inmates of the Northcliffe House bunker wouldn’t object.
Not from a glance at yesterday’s Daily Mail, they wouldn’t, provided it got the result they wanted. “Amid growing outcry over acquittal of Colston statue wreckers … PM: VANDALS CAN’T CHANGE OUR HISTORY” they thundered. But no-one has changed history, or even attempted to do so. And then the Attorney General decided to intervene.
Suella Braverman (for it was she) Tweeted “Trial by jury is an important guardian of liberty & must not be undermined. However, the decision in the Colston statue case is causing confusion”. It sodding well isn’t. It’s just got the right-wing press frothing with rage because they didn’t like the jurors’ decision. Her next Tweet effectively confirmed this.
“Without affecting the result of this case, as Attorney General, I am able to refer matters to the Court of Appeal so that senior judges have the opportunity to clarify the law for future cases. I am carefully considering whether to do so”. But the law does not require clarification. No precedent has been set, even though some pundits claim it has.
Her intervention did not meet with universal approval from other lawyers, although her fellow Tory MPs lapped it up. Human rights lawyer Adam Wagner had a warning for her: “there is a basic issue which will be becoming clear to ministers - a jury verdict sets no precedent, so the law is as it was, but a Court of Appeal decision would set an important precedent, which may not be the one the govt want”. Be careful what you wish for.
The Secret Barrister, meanwhile, was scathing. “Not a single high profile criminal case can now pass without the Attorney General - a person with no experience of criminal law - exploiting it for political gain. It is difficult to think of an AG who has more enthusiastically abused their office”. And Jolyon Maugham was on the same page.
“By attacking the jury verdict in the Colston case Braverman tells a simple truth about how much Government really cares … about ‘British traditions’ … Theirs is a government without principles, without substance, of empty nationalistic signalling”. Ouch!
But it gets her favourable copy and appeases the right-wing press, so that’s all right, then.
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