A weekly newspaper press photographer who was facing a possible jail sentence after accidentally photographing jury members outside court has been cleared.
Lucy Ford from the Banbury Guardian was facing a contempt of court charge after she accidentally took photos of two jury members outside Oxford Crown Court and then asked them to help her identify a defendant.
The incident took place on 28 January when she was at court for a case involving a defendant on trial for child sex offences.
Contempt of court laws ban people from photographing jurors and Lucy was asked by Judge Ian Pringle to explain her actions, because it could have led to the case being abandoned if the jurors had been intimidated.
But at a hearing last Thursday, Judge Pringle found there was no intent to intimitate the jurors and said he would not impose any punishment on her.
The move has been welcomed by Banbury Guardian editor Jason Gibbins who said he was “delighted” with the outcome.
Said Jason: “Johnston Press offered its full support to Lucy throughout the very difficult period. We were delighted when the court rightly ruled in her favour.”
The court was told that the photographer had quickly realised her mistake and told the jurors: “Sorry, I’m not supposed to talk to you”.
She had also apologised to a member of the court’s security staff.
At an earlier hearing, Judge Pringle said: “If it is right that she took a photograph of jurors leaving this court, that in itself can intimidate those individuals.
“It is only by good fortune that both of them were happy to continue. The trial could have been abandoned.”
Kate Wilson, defending, said that the jurors had walked into Lucy’s picture and there was no attempt to intimidate them.