The Attorney General, Dominic Grieve has made good on his word to treat seriously inappropriate social media use. In an interview with me for Legal Cheek, Grieve said he would address any “undermining of fairness and justice” caused or exacerbated by the proliference of social media, “either individually or collectively“.
Grieve appeared in person at the High Court to ask that Kasim Davey be jailed for contempt of court. 21 year old Davey had been a juror in a child sex case in December 2012 before he was discharged from the jury for comments made on Facebook. The post read: ‘Woooow I wasn’t expecting to be in a jury Deciding a paedophiles fate, I’ve always wanted to F*** up a paedophile & now I’m within the law!’
Davey’s lawyer, Lord Carlile, had argued that his client had intended to try the defendant fairly on the evidence, but displayed a ‘normal citizen’s dislike of paedophiles’ when there was ‘a lot of Jimmy Savile news at the time’.
This case was heard in the Queen’s Bench Division alongside that of Joseph Beard, who went online to find extra information relating to the fraud case he was in the jury for. It is alleged that he shared this information with other jurors which meant that the trial had to be stopped. He is also facing contempt of court charges.
The jurors have each been jailed for 2 months.
Grieve added that jurors who use the internet to research a case “undermine justice”.
“It creates a risk that the defendant will be convicted or acquitted, not on the evidence, but on unchallenged and untested material discovered by the juror.”