A 68-year-old retired social worker, Trudi Warner, is set to be prosecuted for contempt of court after holding up a placard outside Inner London crown court earlier this year. The placard advocated for the rights of jurors. This development was revealed by The Guardian.

The decision to prosecute Warner was made by Michael Tomlinson KC, the solicitor general and Conservative MP for Mid Dorset and North Poole. The case is scheduled to take place in the high court. Warner’s protest was in response to restrictions imposed by a judge during climate trials that prevented defendants from mentioning climate change, insulation, fuel poverty, or their motivations for taking action during their trials. These restrictions raised concerns and were criticized by the civil rights group Liberty.

Notably, some individuals who defied the judge’s restrictions by mentioning climate change during their trials were subsequently jailed for contempt of court. Amy Pritchard and Giovanna Lewis, both jailed for seven weeks, are currently appealing their convictions for contempt.

Warner, who observed some of these trials, held a sign that read: “Jurors: you have an absolute right to acquit a defendant according to your conscience.” Following her actions, she was referred to the Old Bailey for contempt of court proceedings. A high court judge subsequently referred the case to Tomlinson to decide whether to pursue contempt proceedings or charge her with attempting to pervert the course of justice. Tomlinson announced his decision to prosecute her for contempt of court in a letter sent to Warner.

Simultaneously, a separate investigation is ongoing concerning allegations of attempting to pervert the course of justice related to at least 12 individuals who stood outside Inner London crown court in May holding similar placards. The investigation is led by the public order crime unit and is in its early stages.

The Metropolitan police’s specialist public order unit has sent letters to the 12 individuals, stating that their actions may amount to an offense under the common law of attempting to pervert the course of justice. This investigation has raised concerns about freedom of expression and the right to protest.

Tim Crosland, a lawyer among those being investigated by the Metropolitan police, expressed both concern and determination, stating that these actions highlight the repression faced by those seeking accountability from the government.

The investigation was initiated after Judge Silas Reid referred 24 people to the attorney general earlier this summer. These individuals had protested outside his court in May, advocating for the absolute right of jurors to acquit defendants according to their conscience.

The Metropolitan police confirmed that they have received an allegation of perverting the course of justice and are conducting an investigation but have made no arrests as of now.

In response to the developments, a spokesperson for the attorney general’s office emphasized the seriousness of contempt of court, noting that proceedings are initiated sparingly. The solicitor general has determined to institute proceedings against Trudi Warner in the public interest, and it will now be a matter for the court to decide.

This case underscores the ongoing debate over the balance between freedom of expression and the administration of justice in the context of climate activism and protest.