News Ruth Dudley Edwards

Wednesday 24 September 2014

At long last, some spice to invigorate long-suffering jury

Jude Law was the star attraction at the tabloid trial which is due to last for six months, writes Ruth Dudley Edwards

Published 02/02/2014 | 02:30

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I've done jury service twice and found the experience well worth while, but court proceedings can be very boring indeed. Which, of course, is one of the reasons why so many people unethically dodge their duty.

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When I'm following a long case, I feel empathy for the hapless jurors as they try to follow what's going on, to avoid being bamboozled by clever, sometimes unscrupulous lawyers and to make up their minds on the basis of the evidence laid before them, not on emotion.

These days, in high-profile cases, jurors have the additional problem that social media are abuzz and search engines awash with relevant information which is forbidden them. This must be excruciating for the three men and nine women trapped in an Old Bailey courtroom since late October to consider the case loosely known as the News of the World (NOTW) hacking trial.

The seven defendants include ex-editors Rebekah Brooks and Andy Coulson and the bandying about of famous names livens up proceedings, yet when the jurors stagger home in the evening with all sorts of questions in their minds they have to obey the judge's injunction to keep their eyes and ears shut. "Do not look up back up editions of newspapers," he said. "Do not look up anything in search engines on Google or Yahoo." Social media are to be shunned. At times jurors must feel like honoured guests placed at the top table but given a severely restricted diet.

In their 12th week, things looked up, and in place of the gruel of missing technological devices they were given the champagne and cake of appearances by actors and celebs Jude Law and Sienna Miller.

In central London, I frequent a cafe looking out at an alleyway between two stage doors where autograph hunters gather. Now Jude Law is a fine actor and it may be that the myriad of young women queuing for his smile and signature are stirred by his brilliant performance as Henry V, but I suspect their enthusiasm may have more to do with his being perceived – as one commentator put it – as "sex on legs. Those cheekbones. Those saucer eyes. Women ... pant in his wake".

Even his receding hairline hasn't dampened their ardour, which is fanned by the tabloid obsession with his glamorous friends and his myriad affairs, not least the lengthy one with Miller.

Mr Hot – who has already won enormous damages from Rupert Murdoch's News International over phone-hacking – came to court on Monday to help resolve some contentious details. The dramatic highlights were his discovery that an unnamed relative of his who had been an NOTW source had been paid for his information and his cross-examination about what he said to his old friend Daniel Craig in 2005 when he heard he was having an affair with Miller. (Less than you'd think.)

On Friday, Miller appeared on a video-link from New Orleans. "I think the thing that is being slightly misconstrued about this voicemail message [to Daniel Craig] was that I said 'I love you' and that this was some incredibly important declaration of love.

"Since we became friends in 2003 I always ended my phone calls with 'I love you', as I did with all my friends and family."

Allegedly, Law was told about Craig by Miller's driver who then sold the story for £6,000. Embarrassingly, it was claimed that publishing it was "effectively approved" by Law's publicist, who wanted it backdated so it would appear Miller cheated on Law before Law cheated with his children's nanny. This contradicts Law's statement to the court that he neither "directly or indirectly" gave private information to the now defunct tabloid.

These appearances sandwiched the lengthy cross-examination of Dan Evans, a reporter who has admitted being an inveterate phone-hacker at both the Sunday Mirror and the NOTW.

His glittering career as a breaker of celebrity stories would end in convictions for hacking and perjury. Having failed to get immunity from prosecution for giving police information about his bosses, he's now co-operating with the Crown Prosecution Service in the hope of having his sentence reduced. Unsurprisingly, defence lawyers are giving him a hard time.

There will be innumerable more stories of how celebrities, their intimates and journalists behaved badly: some cheated, some were promiscuous, some greedy, some treacherous, some cruel. They're human and they faced a great deal of temptation. Maybe the jury members go home at night just being glad they're ordinary.

www.ruthdudleyedwards.com Twitter @RuthDE

Irish Independent

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