Deaf man loses jury ruling challenge

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The Independent Online

A profoundly deaf man has again been refused permission to serve on a jury after contesting a previous ruling.

A profoundly deaf man has again been refused permission to serve on a jury after contesting a previous ruling.

Jeff McWhinney, chief executive of the British Deaf Association, a major charity, argued that an interpreter should be allowed to retire with a jury - and would not breach confidentiality.

His challenge followed a summons he received for jury service. He was then automatically excused on the grounds that he was deaf, solicitors David Levene & Co, representing him, said.

He was challenging a ruling that his need for a sign language interpreter would result in an "incurable irregularity" as a 13th person would need to retire with the jury when they considered their verdict.

His challenge, heard before the resident judge, Judge Anwyl, at the Crown Court in Woolwich, south-east London today, rested on the fact that there is no law that prevents interpreters from being present at deliberations with the jury.

Any concerns that a 13th person in the jury room could lead to the disclosure of opinions or arguments are covered by the sign language interpreter's code of ethics, it was argued.

Mr McWhinney said, through counsel, that the time has come to allow deaf people to serve as jurors and that any practical difficulties caused by deaf people serving on juries can easily be overcome.