Page last updated at 14:01 GMT, Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Juror faces action over comments

Keran Henderson
Keran Henderson was convicted of manslaughter on a 10-2 majority

Permission has been granted to launch contempt of court proceedings against a newspaper publisher and a jury foreman who told "secrets of the jury room".

Childminder Keran Henderson, 43, of Iver Heath, Bucks, was convicted in 2007 of the manslaughter of 11-month-old Maeve Sheppard, on a 10-2 majority.

Mike Seckerson was one of two jurors who condemned the conviction.

The jurors' comments, but not their names, were published by The Times newspaper in December 2007.

Voting intentions

Henderson, a mother-of-two, had pleaded not guilty to manslaughter.

In the article, the jurors were reported to have said that Henderson was wrongly convicted of killing the child by shaking her sufficiently violently to cause blindness and brain damage.

Philip Havers QC, for the Attorney General, applied to the High Court in London for permission to bring contempt proceedings against Times Newspapers Ltd and Mr Seckerson.

Mr Havers told Lord Justice Maurice Kay and Mr Justice Simon that the article "breaches the absolute rule against disclosing the essential secrets of the jury room".

He said it revealed voting intentions of jury members and disclosed their reasoning in coming to a judgement.

The judges gave the Attorney General permission to take legal action for breaches of the 1981 Contempt of Court Act, adding "we don't think this is the very gravest case of jury indiscretion - nevertheless we grant permission".

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