Justice will be done…
Justice will be done…..
By Joshua Ellis
13 October 2022
September 2009, Manchester United line up against Manchester City.
The game is tied at 3-3 in the 6th minute of injury time. Ryan Giggs collects the ball from a poorly cleared free-kick and plays it through to Michael Owen who scores United’s winning goal.
This game has come to be regarded as one of the greatest football matches in premier league history. It is also considered one of Ryan Giggs’ greatest performances on a football pitch: a true high-point in a glittering career.
Thirteen years later and a world away from the roars and triumphs of Old Trafford, in a quiet courtroom at Manchester Crown Court, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) confirmed that they would seek a retrial in respect of Ryan Giggs and the allegations of assault and coercive behaviour against his former girlfriend and her sister. His retrial is set to begin on 31 July 2023.
Following the jury’s failure to agree a verdict in his first trial, a presumption existed that the prosecution would seek a retrial. Nevertheless, the ultimate decision still depended upon the consideration of various factors, including: the merits of the case, the public interest in seeking a retrial, and the views of the complainant(s).
Ideally, a full jury should reach a unanimous decision when deciding a person’s guilt: 12 agree the verdict of guilty or not guilty. It is possible to hear a case without a full complement of jurors. In the Giggs’ trial, a juror fell ill and was discharged. However, where the jury cannot reach a unanimous decision, a majority direction will be given.
failed to agree a verdict
After 22 hours and 59 minutes of deliberations and a majority direction, the jury said that they had failed to agree a verdict and that there was no realistic prospect of reaching a verdict even if given more time.
It is this limbo (neither guilty nor not guilty) that Ryan Giggs finds himself in. The Crown were given seven days to reach a decision. The prosecuting advocate told the court that the decision had been considered ‘at a senior level’, as in accordance with CPS policy.
The decision to seek a retrial was in part reached due to the preparedness of the complainant, Ms Greville, to give evidence in a new trial. There is also no doubt a public interest argument that can be made: The allegation is of domestic abuse and is violent in nature. That is why, Giggs, who will have been on bail for more than two and half years by July next year, will once again find himself on trial for allegedly assaulting his former girlfriend and her sister.
Should the jury fail to reach a verdict in his retrial, then the presumption is that the prosecution will not seek a third trial, unless there are exceptional circumstances such as jury interference or new evidence that has come to light.
Jury interference, or the possibility of it, is not unfamiliar territory for the Giggs’ trial. After all, it was an issue that had to be considered following a tweet by former Manchester United teammate, Gary Neville. Concern was raised that Neville’s tweet may have been an attempt to influence ongoing criminal proceedings, therefore amounting to a contempt of court. Further concern was that it may have jeopardised the trial itself. The decision was made that the trial could continue, but Neville has been referred to the Attorney General.
Guidance from the Attorney General’s Office on contempt of court and social media reminds us that posting about a case or upcoming trial may amount to contempt of it. This includes, making comments on facts or evidence that will be heard during the trial or sharing content from the trial such as video recordings, or images. Neville’s tweet has not been made public, and nor should it be with the above guidance in mind. Should the AG wish to he can now refer the matter to the CPS for prosecution for contempt of court or refer it to the trial judge for consideration of contempt of court by way of summary procedure, whereby the judge will deal with the matter himself.
And so, it is possible that 14 years after their historic victory against Manchester City at Old Trafford, two former Manchester United greats might find that they are no longer playing in the “Theatre of Dreams” but waking up to the cold, harsh reality of a British courtroom.
Joshua is an effective and approachable advocate, noted for his client care and strong tactical mind. He is developing a busy Crime practice, regularly appearing in the Magistrates’, Youth and Crown Courts.
Joshua has particular experience in representing clients with complex mental health needs and has had considerable success in persuading the court to stay proceedings where his clients have not been fit to stand trial.
Prior to coming to the Bar, Joshua worked with the Capital Appeals Project in New Orleans, representing defendants on Louisiana’s Death Row in their post-conviction appeals. He has also had experience working as a paralegal at a top commercial law firm in London, as well as advising and representing students at University disciplinary hearings.
“Great strength in depth both in relation to their expertise and breadth of experience from juniors through to their QCs.”
Legal 500 – 2022
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