A newspaper photographer for the Banbury Guardian who took pictures of two jury members and then asked them to identify a photo of a defendant has been cleared of contempt of court.
According to the Oxford Mail, Lucy Ford was facing a possible jail sentence over the incident, which occurred on 28 January. A piece published on the paper’s website on 2 February said:
Judge Ian Pringle said he had been told the 34-year-old quickly realised her mistake, telling the jurors “sorry, I’m not supposed to talk to you”.
She then apologised to a member of the court’s security staff.
But the Judge later told Pringle he was taking the matter seriously because it could have led to the case being abandoned:
If it is right that she took a photograph of jurors leaving this court, that in itself can intimidate those individuals.
It is only by good fortune that both of them were happy to continue. The trial could have been abandoned.
Kate Wilson, defending, said her client was “potentially facing a custodial sentence”, adding: “These jurors walked into her picture – it was in no way an attempt to intimidate a juror.”
A piece in the Oxford Mail on 9 February on Ford being cleared said:
Judge Pringle said there was potential her actions could have intimidated a juror – a contempt of court – but he found there was no intent and so would not impose a punishment.