Police on jury does not prejudice fair trial

The presence of serving or retired police officers on a jury does not prejudice a fair trial, the European Court of Human Rights has ruled.

Peter Charles Armstrong was convicted of murder in 2008. The jury included one serving police officer and one retired police officer.

Both jurors declared their police status at the start of the trial. The serving police officer further said that he recognised another police officer sitting in the courtroom. The judge invited submissions from counsel from which investigations were made. The serving officer answered questions about his knowledge of police and prosecution witnesses. This was all done with the knowledge of the accused. He was unaware of the nature of the case and confirmed that he recognised none of the witnesses listed. The retired police officer did not recognise anyone in court.

The defence had an opportunity to object to the police officers’ presence but chose not to do so. It was also noted that the verdict did not rely to any substantial extent on the evidence given by the police witness.

Armstrong v UK. ECHR Application 65282/09. The Times 12 January 2015