Contempt of Court - 'Hijab MP3 Juror' Not Guilty

Case discontinued by the prosecution
1 August, 2007
Criminal
High Profile

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Case study summary

Our client was a Muslim girl accused of listening to music under her headscarf while on a murder jury. She told us she had her earphones in because they didn't come out easily without her removing the scarf. We convinced the prosecution they couldn't prove music had been playing.

Case study

Our client was a young Muslim student accused of listening to an MP3 player under her hijab while she was sitting as a juror in a murder trial. The case generated a national media circus, and was reported internationally. Some of the reporting was not just irresponsible, but also had racist undertones.

After a complaint from a juror that she was listening to music under her head scarf, our client had been dismissed from the jury by the judge, and he referred the case to the Attorney General to prosecute her for contempt of court. The tabloid press seized upon this case as a some kind of racial issue, misrepresenting her as wearing a full veil to add prejudice.

Even one of the prosecution barristers from the murder trial made and innappropriate comments to the press, adding to this young girl’s problems in achieving a fair trial. In one inflammatory article, the Daily Mail newspaper reported that she 'faced jail', despite the fact that she hadn't been found guilty of any offence.

In fact, our client could show that her MP3 player was unplugged, and that she had simply had the earphones in because taking off her headscarf to remove them was difficult and time-consuming. She contacted our specialist criminal solicitors and we met her to discuss the way forward. When we had heard her side of what happened, we refused to allow her to plead guilty and we set about thoroughly preparing her defence.

During trips into court, we organised a decoy and alternative entries and exits for our client so that she evaded the crowd of aggressive journalists trying to intercept her.

After communication with our specialist criminal defence lawyers, the prosecution realised the weakness of the evidence and dropped the case against our client before it reached trial. Disappointingly, the Attorney General's office told the national and international media before letting us and our client know. Once we confirmed with the prosecution that what was being reported on the TV and radio was in fact true, we informed our client of the good news. She was delighted that this unjust nightmare was finally over.

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