Tuesday, May 22, 2007


Tuesday 22nd - Summing up done, jury deliberating

As you see from the title, the judge did his summing up this morning, and sent the jury off with instructions to reach a unanimous verdict, and directions about how to do so. More details of the summing up will be posted later - suffice to say it was balanced, and now it's up to the 11 good women and one good man. No news from them so far.

Later - ok, here it is:

The judge sums up

He began by making clear the roles of judge and jury, “I am the judge of the law, you are the judges of fact. …..I tell you what the law is and you apply it accordingly,” and reminded the jurors that they had sworn to try this case according to the evidence presented “there will be no more and you are not to guess at what else there might have been.” He told them that they would have to consider what was said, what was done and what was in people’s minds, and most importantly, to judge all the witnesses by the same fair standards. Judge Crowther reminded the jury of the fundamental rule of law, that it is for the prosecution to prove their case, not for the defendants to prove their innocence, and that nothing less than being sure of their guilt will do – if not completely sure, the verdict must be ‘not guilty.’
Judge Crowther told the jury briefly about the progress of the case prior to this trial – that a High Court judge in 2004 had ruled that foreign policy and the use of the armed forces is a matter for the government alone and cannot be examined by the courts in this country. This ruling was referred to the Court of Appeal in London, and from there to the House of Lords, the highest court in the land, which upheld this decision. Therefore, only an international court can rule on the lawfulness of the governments decision and action in going to war. [And guess who has to authorise an appeal to the international courts? – the government’s legal advisor, the Attorney General, that’s who, he of the highly ‘revised’ opinion on the legality of this war….]
The judge explained that the charge of conspiracy to commit criminal damage means an agreement to cause damage to the property of another which is not justified in law – as an agreement requires at least 2 people, the jury must return the same verdict for both Phil and Toby. There is no argument that they agreed to cause damage to another’s property, the issue is over whether it was criminal damage, i.e. without lawful excuse, and it is for the prosecution to disprove lawful excuse.
There are 2 possible lawful excuses, and here the judge referred the jury to the ‘Steps to Verdict’ document they’ve been given. This details the elements of the 2 possible defences to be considered and in this document ‘you’ means the jury.

The opening statement of the document reads “The legality of the decision to go to war against Iraq in 2003 is not a relevant issue and the answers to none of the questions in this case can be affected by any juror’s opinion or views as to that."

1. Protecting Property
For the defence of protecting property, the defendant must have:
(i) acted to protect another’s property from damage
(In this context, you must consider whether it can be said from an objective standpoint that, on the facts as they were believed to be by the defendant, the damage he intended to carry out was to be done to protect another’s property.)
(ii) believed that another’s property was in immediate need of protection
(iii) believed that the means of protection used or to be used by him was reasonable having regard to all the circumstances.

In answering (ii) and (iii) above, it is immaterial whether these beliefs were justified provided they were honestly held when he acted.

If you are sure that the answer to any of these points is “No”, then this defence doesn’t apply and you will go on to consider the next defence, below.
If the answer to all of them may be “Yes”, then your verdict will be “Not Guilty”.

[The judge amplified point (i) by acknowledging the suggestion made by the prosecution that publicity or protest might have been Phil and Toby’s aims, but made it clear that this does not detract from the defence if the protection of another’s property was any part of their intention.]

2. Use of force to prevent a war crime

Was the defendant intending to use reasonable force to prevent a war crime?
The law allows a defence where a person uses force in order to prevent crime, and in doing so uses only such force as is reasonable in the circumstances.

A war crime to be committed on foreign soil is is capable of amounting to such a crime as it is an offence triable in the UK.

The prosecution have accepted that both defendants honestly believed at the time they made the agreement to commit damage that a war crime might be committed at some stage.

To act lawfully in using force to prevent crime the defendant must have:

(i) intended to commit only such damage as was necessary to prevent such a crime;

(ii) such damage as he intended to commit was reasonable, judged by you in the light of all the factual circumstances the defendant believed to exist at the time;

(iii) he believed such damage was capable of preventing such a crime being committed.

If you are sure that the answer to any of the points above is “No”, then this defence doesn’t apply.
If the answer to all of them may be “Yes”, your verdict will be “Not Guilty”.

[The judge’s comment re. point (ii) was that the damage they intended to commit must be reasonable in all the circumstances, including but not limited to those the defendants believed to exist. Also that the jury are not required to decide whether a war crime would have been committed, but whether the defendants were intending to use reasonable force to prevent a war crime.]

So endeth the document and Judge Crowther's summary of the law as it relates to this case. Then, he reminded the jury of the evidence they had seen and heard, or at least the parts he thought important and relevant. This was basically a fairly even-handed run through of what we've already told you, and he made clear that the jurors might decide differently which evidence was important. After which, at about 12.30, he sent the jury out to consider their verdict.

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?