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Craig Hassall appears in committal for contempt proceedings against HM Solicitor General: Lord Chief Justice orders review of information provided to jurors

Craig Hassall today appeared against HM Solicitor General, Robert Buckland QC MP, in committal for contempt proceedings before the Lord Chief Justice. The proceedings were brought against a juror who had written to convicted defendants after a high profile sexual trafficking trial, disclosing details of the jury’s deliberations, contrary to the Contempt of Court Act 1981. On behalf of the Respondent, Craig argued that the warnings given to jurors in relation to section 8 of the Act were unclear and inadequate.

The court accepted that the Respondent did not breach any specific injunction of the trial judge and did not know she was breaching the Act. The Lord Chief Justice then ordered HM Court Service to conduct a comprehensive review of the information provided to jurors about their obligations. The Respondent’s committal to prison for three months was suspended for 12 months and there was no order for costs.

The case is likely to be among the last applications for committal for contempt in such circumstances. From 13th April 2015, contempt under section 8 of the 1981 Act has been replaced by specific criminal offences under section 20D of the Juries Act 1974, inserted by the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015.