'Too homophobic and racist to be a juror' at Southampton Crown Court

Southampton Crown Court

Southampton Crown Court

First published in Southampton Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Education Reporter

A WOULD-BE juror faces prosecution after he claimed he was unable to serve at Southampton Crown Court due to “extreme homophobic and racist views”.

A letter written by the man was read out in court after he was selected to serve on the jury in the case of a man who was on trial for assault and dangerous driving.

Presiding Judge Gary Burrell QC read the letter out in open court in which the man, who the Daily Echo cannot name for legal reasons, said his extreme views made it impossible for him to be impartial.

He wrote: “I strongly believe that it would be a serious injustice to the legal system to select me for jury service.

“I hold extreme prejudices against homosexuals and black/foreign people and couldn’t possibly be impartial if either appeared in court. Therefore it would not be in the court’s interest to have me a juror.”

He added that in his eagerness to bring any case to a swift conclusion, he would simply vote with the majority and not give his true opinion.

He concluded: “I would be more than happy to speak to a judge regarding my personal views regarding the legal system which I do not hold in high regard.”

Prosecuting and defence barristers Rebecca Austin and Robert Bryan lodged a challenge to him as a juror. When questioned by Judge Burrell about whether these were his true beliefs he confirmed they were and added that he didn’t think he had the right to “judge anyone”.

Judge Burrell concluded it was difficult to know for sure whether those were the man’s beliefs or if he was simply trying to manipulate the system. Either way, he said, the opinions were not those held by the vast majority of the population and dismissed him from the jury and from the court building.

Judge Burrell said: “If you do genuinely hold these views then you are someone who should not be on the jury and I question whether you should be doing anything responsible in society at all.”

The man, who was escorted from the court, was warned he now faced prosecution under the Contempt of Court act for failing to serve on a jury as Judge Burrell would be writing to the Attorney General about the case.

A spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office said: "The Attorney General's Office is aware of this case and we await more information from Judge Burrell."

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