Attorney General v Fraill and Another: CACD 16 Jun 2011

Juror’s use of Facebook was contempt

The court considered whether a juror had committed contempt of court. She had communicated with a defendant via Facebook, despite explicit warnings not to use the internet.
Held: Both juror and defendant in the trial had committed contempt of court and were sentenced accordingly.
The defendant juror said that though she had communicated with a defendant it had been after that defendant’s trial on the facts was complete, and there had been no attempt to or effect of perverting the course of justice. However ‘Information provided by the internet (or any other modern method of communication) is not evidence. Even assuming the accuracy and completeness of this information (which, in reality, would be an unwise assumption) its use by a juror exposes him to the risk of being influenced, even unconsciously, by whatever emerges from the internet. This offends our long held belief that justice requires that both sides in a criminal trial should know and be able to address or answer any material (particularly material which appears adverse to them) which may influence the verdict.’
The defendant in the trial had also acted clearly in breach of the 1981 Act in enquiring about the jury deliberations, and ‘ Every member of the jury is entitled in the course of jury deliberations to express his or her views with the utmost frankness and clarity. Beyond the obvious courtesy of the give and take of discussion, there are no degrees or limitations of the views which may be expressed. This process is essential to the way in which juries work towards and finally arrive at their verdicts. Our arrangements proceed on the basis that everything that has been said in the course of these discussions must remain confidential to the members of the jury. And because they remain confidential to the jury, and are known to be so, the exchange of frank views and opinions is encouraged. No one is inhibited by the thought that the expression of an unpopular view, and its source, may become public knowledge.
The offence therefore is committed by (amongst others) by anyone who deliberately solicits information about any aspect of a jury’s deliberations, whether in the course of the trial or after its conclusion.’

Lord Judge LCJ, Ouseley, Holroyde JJ
[2011] EWCH 1629 (Admin), [2011] EWCA Crim B2, [2011] EWCA Crim 1570, [2011] ACD 89, [2011] 2 Crim App Rep 21
Contempt of Court Act 1981 8(1)
England and Wales
CitedBishop of N v Earl of Kent 1500
Jurors were fined both for disobedience to the orders of the judge and also for discussions by one of them about the case they were trying with an external party . .
CitedFoster v Horden 1676
. .
CitedLangdell v Sutton 1790
An attachment was ordered against the jurors for determining their verdict by hustling half-pence in a hat ; one of them had discovered the matter, and sworn it ; the eleven others denied it upon oath ; but it was proved that four of them had . .
CitedRegina v Macrae 19-Nov-1892
. .
CitedAttorney-General v Newspaper Publishing Plc and Others CA 2-May-1997
A third party was in contempt of court if the proceedings had been significantly, and adversely, affected. It was not necessary that they had been frustrated entirely.
‘The law of contempt is of ancient origin yet of fundamental contemporary . .
CitedSchot and Another, v Regina CACD 12-May-1997
Jurors, after retirement refused to deliver a verdict claiming personal reasons. The were summoned to court to answer charges of contempt of court. Explaining the contempt proceedings that the jurors faced, the trial judge said: ‘[I]n so far as . .
CitedThompson and Others v Regina CACD 14-Jul-2010
Six appeals were brought alleging various forms of irregularity by the jurors.
Held: Lord Judge said: ‘The verdict must be reached, according to the jury oath in accordance with the evidence. For this purpose each juror brings to the . .
CitedRegina v Connor and another; Regina v Mirza HL 22-Jan-2004
The defendants sought an enquiry as to events in the jury rooms on their trials. They said that the secrecy of a jury’s deliberations did not fit the human right to a fair trial. In one case, it was said that jurors believed that the defendant’s use . .
CitedRegina v Karakaya CACD 16-Feb-2005
After conclusion of the trial, the jury bailiff discovered notes in the jury room which indictated that the jury, after they had retired for their verdict, had read and discussed notes obtained by a juror from the Internet relating to the case.
CitedRegina v Adams CACD 2007
Except with the authority of the trial judge during the trial, or of the court of appeal after the verdict, inquiries into jury deliberations are ‘forbidden territory’. . .
CitedRegina v Marshall and Crump CACD 17-Jan-2007
After the trial, papers were discovered in the jury retiring room showing that members of the jury had downloaded from the Internet material relating to the charges before them.
Held: The appeals failed. ‘the taking of this material into the . .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Contempt of Court

Updated: 01 November 2021; Ref: scu.441300