Potential jurors are 'ignoring summonses or refusing to attend'

Judge Andrew Menary QC Image copyright Avalon Licensing Limited
Image caption Judge Andrew Menary QC said jurors "across the country" were "simply ignoring summonses or refusing to attend"

Potential jurors are searching internet chat rooms for tips and "techniques" on how to avoid their public duty, a senior judge has revealed.

The problem was highlighted by Judge Andrew Menary QC, the Recorder of Liverpool.

He imposed a maximum £1,000 fine on a 70-year-old man who gave a string of excuses for not attending.

The judge said jurors "across the country" were "simply ignoring summonses or refusing to attend".

"I understand there are now web chat sites in which excuses and techniques for avoiding jury service are openly discussed," Judge Menary said.

The judge was dealing with the case of Barry Grimes, of Cunningham Drive, Bromborough, Wirral, who not only refused to serve as a juror but also failed to attend his contempt of court hearing.

Grimes failed to attend court on 18 January 2018 and his jury service was deferred to 15 July this year, when he failed to attend again.

He said he could not sit for long periods of time and could not concentrate for long, the court heard.

Jury service

  • The court will not pay people to do jury service, but you can claim expenses such as food, drink and travel.
  • You can also claim for loss of earnings if your employer does not pay you during your jury service.
  • You cannot be on a jury if you've been in prison in the last 10 years.
  • Jury service usually lasts up to 10 working days but can be longer.
  • You can be on a jury for more than one trial during your service.

Source: Ministry of Justice

But when told he would need a doctor's certificate to prove his claims, he said he was not unfit but simply was not going to attend.

Another excuse of a pre-booked holiday was also rejected by the judge and all further attempts to contact Grimes were unsuccessful.

The judge said Grimes "displayed a wholly unpleasant and unnecessary attitude".

"I have no information from him to excuse his attendance at all and explanations given in the past are plainly not true on the information I have at the moment," said Judge Menary who branded it "a quite deliberate contempt of court".

The £1,000 fine must be paid within 28 days, otherwise 14 days' imprisonment is imposed by default.

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