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In the eyes of every lawyer I’ve spoken to, Suella Braverman has overstepped the mark

Our home secretary doesn’t seem to understand the dangers of contempt of court, writes former chief prosecutor Nazir Afzal. What was she thinking, tweeting about Chris Kaba’s death?

Tuesday 26 September 2023 17:30 BST
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A large number of armed officers from the Metropolitan Police have stepped back from firearms duties in the wake of a murder charge over the shooting death of (Chris Kaba INQUEST/PA)
A large number of armed officers from the Metropolitan Police have stepped back from firearms duties in the wake of a murder charge over the shooting death of (Chris Kaba INQUEST/PA) (PA Media)

A police officer has been charged with the murder of Chris Kaba in London last year. That’s all that can be said about the case, as it is “live” and any further comment is likely to impact the judge and jury’s decision making. Saying anything more could amount to contempt of court – and may lead to the Attorney General prosecuting you.

You might think that’s sufficient clarity to offer a deterrent to those on social media for them to minimise their commentary. Not so, for the home secretary, Suella Braverman – who tweeted a thread which expressed support for firearms officers who, she acknowledged, have a difficult job.

In one view (and that of every criminal lawyer I have spoken to) she has overstepped the mark by prejudging the case and thereby potentially prejudicing it. In another view, she is merely pointing out to firearms officers that she understands the incredibly difficult task they have and trying to provide reassurance as a number of them are contemplating handing in their “ticket” to use firearms.

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