Protestors gathered outside Swindon Crown Court calling for jurors to be able to acquit defendants "according to their conscience".

Six Swindonians gathered outside the Islington Street court on Monday morning as part of a national demonstration for the Defend Our Juries campaign.

Their signs displayed the principle of ‘jury equity', which they describe as the right of all jurors in British courtrooms to acquit a defendant according to their conscience instead of the judge’s directions.

In 1984, a jury acquitted civil servant Clive Ponting on this principle after he exposed government misinformation to the public and Parliament about the Falklands War.

The gathering also highlighted the government’s stricter rules on public demonstrations, as the group noted that three people in London were arrested for holding protest signs with similar messages outside a Crown Court earlier this year.

Grandmother Joy Corrigan, from Highworth, said: “I’m taking part in this protest because I see the gradual reduction of our rights.

“I couldn't believe it when I saw Trudi Warner arrested for holding up a sign telling the jurors of their right to act with their conscience.

“The sign was actually on a plaque in the Old Bailey courthouse. It's just not right."

Tristan Strange, from Swindon, added: “I’m taking part in this action because I believe that our legal system should not stop defendants from telling the whole truth in court.

“Jurors should be free to make the decision they feel is right based on the full information.

“Our corrupt government, financed by fossil fuel interests, is hellbent on suppressing peaceful protest and manipulating legal cases involving activists.”

After a jury acquitted four people brought to court for toppling a statue of slave trader Edward Colston into Bristol harbour in January 2022, then-Attorney General Suella Braverman brought a successful appeal to the Court of Appeal to change the law.

Stuart Drysdale said: “Defendants are banned from explaining the principle of jury equity to the jury, even though it is a well-established principle of law, which is set in marble at the original entrance to the Old Bailey.

“Measures being taken by courts in response include defendants being banned from explaining to the jury why they did what they did, even people who have taken peaceful direct action are now being sent to prison for up to three years.

“In some cases, people have been sent to prison just for trying to explain their actions to the jury for saying the words ‘climate change’ and ‘fuel poverty’ in court.”