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Bercow wrongly done by lack of jury in libel

by on 27 May, 2013

Sally Bercow *innocent face*, you are wronged.  You have to find damages and lawyer costs for a tweet which the courts under libel said was a defamation of Lord McAlpine.

Who judged the facts of that case: a judge.  There was no jury to decide what the meaning of your tweet was.

No jury on facts

That’s a fundamental weakness about libel today.  I support the libel reforms in the Defamation Act 2013, as far as they go.  But they have gone backwards in the use of juries.  They have made it a Parliamentary law that there is no jury, unless in the most important circumstances.

Why should a judge decide what things mean?  Why should a judge decide the facts of a case?

The judges are experienced  in the law but not the facts.   With the greatest respect to them *innocent face*, they have become judges by rising in their limited world of the law.

Cheaper with no jury

They have, today, become judges of the facts because it is cheaper.  And in these times of austerity that is the default position: if cheaper then it’s right.

I’ve been on jury duty twice and several times that jury got it wrong.  But we have a slippery slope here: why not shorten criminal cases by using a judge to decide facts as well?

Sally, you were hard done by here, let down by a judicial system without the distinction between deciding between the law and the facts.

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