Litigation Recent Decisions 18/03/97

Discharge of jury not necessary for impartiality

David Gregory v United Kingdom (1997)

ECHR (R Ryssdal, Thor Vilhjalmsson, F Golcuklu, F Matscher, A Spielmann, N Valticos, I Foighel, Sir John Freeland, AB Baka) 25/2/97

Summary: European Court of Human Rights decision on whether discharge of jury was necessary to ensure fair trial after suggestions of racial bias.

Application to the European Court of Human Rights in the case of a black applicant from Manchester who was tried before a jury on a charge of robbery. Less then two hours after the jury had retired to consider its verdict, the judge was handed a note which stated that the jury was showing racial overtones and asked that one member be excused. After consultation with counsel the judge decided to redirect the jury, recalled them and told them to consider the case on the evidence alone, putting out of their minds any thoughts of prejudice of whatever kind. He accepted a 10-2 majority verdict of guilt when the jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict. The applicant was sentenced to six years' imprisonment and his application for leave to appeal, contending that the judge should have discharged the jury, was dismissed. A report by the European Commission of Human Rights expressed the majority opinion that Article 6.1 of the European Convention on Human Rights had not been violated.