CAN a jury come to the wrong verdict?
Having covered the courts for 17 years as a journalist, I believe it can.
However, any jury’s verdict is rightly unassailable, leaving room only for debate after a case has concluded.
Such is the situation with the Colston 4, who were found innocent of criminal damage after tearing down his statue in Bristol.
Arguments continue to rage over how the jurors decided the defendants’ actions were an acceptable form of political protest against the perceived, historical sins of Edward Colston.
One possible explanation is the increased use, and fear, of this so-called ‘cancel culture’, pursued by an intolerant and vociferous minority.
Operated via social media, it tries, convicts and sentences those whose views are considered objectionable or unacceptable.
Did this influence the jurors and should it be something for our legal system to be concerned about?
Certainly, no one is spared from this zealotry, with the likes of JK Rowling, John Cleese and Jordan Peterson having been subjected to it.
Accused and condemned, with no hope of appeal, they are cast into the dungeon of moral disapproval.
Such is the current state of play that His Holiness Pope Francis, himself, entered the fray this week.
Describing cancel culture as ‘one track thinking’, he said that we couldn’t reset history by denying or trying to rewrite it, and that it should be judged by the standards of the time.
He added that such ideology left no space for freedom of expression.
It was an interesting departure from spiritual matters for the Pontiff and a significant one.
For, as he said, free speech is crushed and that, to me, is totally unacceptable.