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Gospel Oak jury service dodger demanded £300 a day in obscene message to court

Southwark Crown Court Southwark Crown Court

Monday, December 2, 2013
3:00 PM

A juror could soon find himself in the dock after he sent an obscene message to the courts demanding £300 a day to sit on a trial.

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James Whittaker responded to his initial jury summons with the words “f**k you, I will not go unless I get £300 a day” – equivalent to an annual salary of £78,000 – before repeatedly ignoring further orders to attend court.

He even ignored a summons ordering him to explain himself or be held in contempt of court.

He could now face up to two years in jail or an unlimited fine if convicted of contempt of court after a judge issued a warrant for his arrest.

Whittaker, of Agincourt Road, Gospel Oak, had been called to serve at Southwark Crown Court for two weeks starting in September.

Judge Alistair McCreath said: “Mr Whittaker impertinently returned the form to the court having written on it ‘f**k you, I will not go unless I get £300 a day’.

“The matter was put before His Honour Judge Anthony Leonard who decided that the juror should be summoned to explain his position with the possibility of contempt proceedings being taken.”

He was ordered to attend court to explain himself in August but did not turn up. He then failed to show up for the start of his service in September before rebuffing a further request to attend court in October.

“Letters were written to him and sent by recorded delivery and there was no response,” the judge said.

Bailiffs were eventually sent to his door on October 15, when a woman claimed she did not know that Whittaker had been living at the address.

Judge McCreath added: “His failure is wilful and deliberate and in the circumstances I issue a bench warrant for his arrest.”

During the first two weeks of jury service the most a juror can claim to compensate for loss of earnings is £64.95 a day, plus travel and food expenses. Some employers continue to pay staff who are away on jury service, but they have no duty to do so.

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