A RETIRED Winsford doctor is running the risk of arrest by protesting outside a crown court over juries' rights.

Dr Kathy Fallon, a former GP and climate change activist, will be taking her place outside Liverpool Crown Court on Wednesday, April 16, during a week of action by members of the Defend our Juries campaign.

Around 300 of her fellow campaigners will be demonstrating outside every crown court in England and Wales over the course of the week.

The group is defending the right of a jury to find a defendant not guilty even when they’ve broken the law, if the jury is convinced the law-breaking was justified.

Northwich Guardian: Kathy Fallon's activism extends across a range of climate and environmental issuesKathy Fallon's activism extends across a range of climate and environmental issues (Image: Kathy Fallon)

For example, if a jury accepts a climate protester broke the law during a demonstration, but believes the issue of climate change is so important the defendant’s actions were justified, the jury can acquit them.

This principle, known as jury equity, is a long-standing principle in British law, but Defend our Juries campaigners, like Kathy, are worried it is under threat from judges, who have been known to ban mention of sensitive issues such as climate change at activists' trials.

The campaigners believe juries should be made aware of everything which is at issue in the trail, and should also know and understand their right to acquit a defendant according to their conscience. 

Kathy and her fellow demonstrators will be holding up notices outside the courts explaining the principle of jury equity. 

She said: “As a doctor, I spent my whole career caring for my patients and seeking to protect people’s lives.

"I see and understand the way the climate crisis is causing suffering and death, not just overseas but here in the UK as well.

"This is only going to get rapidly worse, and yet those who are highlighting the problem are not allowed by some judges to give any background information about the science of the climate crisis which would enable jurors to understand their motivations and actions.

“Jury members must be aware that they can acquit defendants based on their conscience and must not find themselves being intimidated by judges.”

This week’s action is timed to coincide with a High Court hearing involving 68-year-old retired social worker, Trudi Warner, who is facing criminal charges for contempt of court after holding up a similar sign.

She did so outside the Inner London Crown Court, also known as the Old Bailey, while a climate change activists’ trial was taking place, and is being prosecuted on the direction of the government’s then solicitor general, Michael Tomlinson.

During that trial, two people involved, Amy Pritchard and Giovanna Lewis, were handed seven-week jail sentences for contempt of court after they mentioned climate change in their addresses to the jury after the judge had forbidden them from doing so. 

Kathy added: “I am deeply shocked that we have judges in this country who are imprisoning people just for mentioning climate change and fuel poverty in court, both of which are destroying thousands of lives in the UK, and millions globally.

“Defendants should be allowed to explain their actions and motivations.”