Press release: 9 November 2023 MET arrest another young woman for holding a sign with the law on
- Police arrest Laura Kaarina Korte, aged 28, for ‘perverting the course of justice’ for holding a sign with the law on it outside Inner London Crown Court on 15 May.
- Out of more than 300 people who have publicly held jury conscience signs outside court, Ms Korte is the third to be arrested for doing so.
- The arrest follows the dawn police raid on another young woman on 18 October for holding a similar sign.
- Deputy Speaker, Nigel Evans MP, raises the case of Trudi Warner, the third woman arrested for holding a similar sign, with the Attorney General, who says she can’t comment on the detail of the case.
- In response to the arrest, the campaign group, Defend Our Juries, announces a ‘National Day of Action’ on 4 December.
Laura Kaarina Korte explains why she held a sign
Arrest and detention
On 7 November, Laura Kaarina Korte, a 28 year-old legal support worker, was arrested for marching against the British Government’s plans to ‘max out’ on North Sea oil and gas. She was hand-cuffed and forced to the ground with a police officer’s knee on her back. She was then further arrested for ‘perverting the course of justice’, held in police custody for 24 hours, interviewed under caution about the supposed ‘offence’ and asked to identify ‘the organisers’ of people holding signs. After being threatened with a police tag and a remand into custody, she was bailed to Charing Cross Police Station on 6 February 2024.
Is upholding the law on a sign a crime?
Her supposed crime? Holding up a sign with the law on it outside Inner London Crown Court on 15 May of this year along with 23 others, communicating the centuries old principle of ‘jury equity’, which is set in marble at the Old Bailey, and confirmed by the Court of Appeal in the case of Goncalves,  EWCA Crim 1703,  2 CrAppR 14 (at ).
One of many
The first person to be arrested for holding up a jury conscience sign was the 68 year-old retired social worker, Trudi Warner in March. Since then more than 300 people have held up similar signs outside criminal courts in solidarity. In July, 40 of them wrote a letter to the Solicitor General to say, “If you prosecute Trudi Warner, you should prosecute us too.” On 25 September, 252 people held similar signs outside Crown Courts, openly and transparently. None of them were asked to move (either by the police or court staff). To date the only other person to be arrested after holding a sign was another young woman on 18 October, Indigo Rumbelow. Three people were previously arrested in April for Perverting the Course of Justice after similar messages were displayed on posters around the proximity of a court building. The total number of people arrested for sharing messages about jurors rights with the public this year is six.
Why has Laura Korte been targeted for arrest?
Why were two young women arrested, when hundreds of others have publicly held the same sign without interference? As with Indigo Rumbelow in October, Laura Korte has also demonstrated against the Government’s plans to max out on oil and gas, which Caroline Lucas MP has branded as ‘morally obscene’. It appears both women were arrested not out from a clear and consistent application of the law, but were targeted and harassed as political opponents of the government and the fossil fuel industry.
The US journalist, Amy Westervelt, has recently revealed how the escalating repression is being driven not by the public, but by so-called ‘think tanks’, such as Policy Exchange, which are being funded by fossil fuel companies. Last month, the UN described the British Government’s repression of protest as “terrifying”.
Measures to undermine jury trial by stealth
The demonstrations come in response to measures to prevent juries reaching not-guilty verdicts in trials of the government’s political opponents, following a pattern of jury acquittals in trials of members of groups such as Palestine Action, Insulate Britain and Just Stop Oil. Measures include juries being directed by judges that no defence is available and defendants being banned from explaining their reasons for their actions (and even being sent to prison if they try). People are being banned from explaining to the jury a jury’s right to acquit on their conscience (a principle known as ‘jury nullification’), even though it is a well established constitutional safeguard, which is still taught to children in schools.
Last week a judge threatened to conduct the trial of Dr Gail Bradbrook, a co-founder of Extinction Rebellion, without a jury at all.
Misogynistic police force
The arrests follow acceptance by the Met Commissioner, Mark Rowley, in March 2023, of the factual findings underpinning the independent Casey report, which concluded that the force was ‘racist, misogynistic and homophobic’.
Deputy speaker raises Trudi Warner case with Attorney General
In a sign of growing political unease at the government’s crackdown on free speech, the Conservative MP and Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons, Nigel Evans MP, wrote to the Attorney General, Victoria Prentis MP, about the prosecution of Trudi Warner for holding a sign. On 30 October, the Attorney General replied to Mr Evans saying:
“it would not be right for me to go into further detail in relation to an ongoing case”
National Day of Action
A spokesperson for the campaign group, Defend Our Juries, announced a ‘national day of action’ on 4 December in response:
“It must be obvious these arrests are not about a consistent application of the law. They are an undisguised attempt to intimidate. But this abuse of power is having the opposite effect. It’s mobilising people to take a stand in growing numbers. Today we’re announcing another National Day of Action on 4 December. People will hold similar signs outside courts around the country in solidarity with those who’ve been arrested.”
More than 700 members of the public have now signed a petition saying: “”Please charge me” in solidarity with Trudi Warner”
Speaking after her arrest, Ms Korte asked:
“The veterans fought against fascism. What is it that we’re now seeing?”
Melinda Janki, lawyer and winner of the Commonwealth Rule of Law Prize, 2023, said:
“The misogynistic Metropolitan police violated the right to freedom of expression when they arrested Laura Korte for holding a sign educating people on the legal concept of jury nullification. The entire legal profession now needs to hold up identical signs and defend the rule of law before it is too late. Ignoring assaults on freedom only leads to totalitarianism.”
Additional context and background
For more on the Defend Our Juries campaign see defendourjuries.org
“Trudi Warner reveals the dark secret of English courts: juries do have the right to follow their consciences” (Professor Richar Vogler, Guardian, 27 September 2023)
“Big Oil Billions and The Real Cancel Culture Threatening Brits With Prison for Telling the Truth” (Byline Times, 25 August 2023)
“Contempt threat against climate activist may undermine trial by jury, lawyers say” (Guardian, 26 July 2023)
The Defend Our Juries campaign aims:
- to bring to public attention the programme to undermine trial by jury in the context of those taking action to expose government dishonesty and corporate greed
- to raise awareness of the vital constitutional safeguard that juries can acquit a defendant as a matter of conscience, irrespective of a judge’s direction that there is no available defence (a principle also known as ‘jury equity’ or ‘jury nullification‘)
- to ensure that all defendants have the opportunity to explain their actions when their liberty is at stake, including by explaining their motivations and beliefs.
Press contact: 07795 316164
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