A protester braved a freezing winter morning to defend the historic right of juries to find people not guilty based on “conscience".

Retired engineering worker Peter Billington held his sign aloft outside Bolton Crown Court on a cold and wet Monday in defence of the historic principal.

The 75-year-old Accrington man said that this right was more important today than ever given recent events.

Mr Billington said: "It is important to preserve the right of juries to reach a verdict based on their view of a case. 

“I have supported peace activists in court who took nonviolent disarmament actions to prevent harm to others.

The Bolton News: Mr Billington says he is defending the historic right of juries to acquit according to conscienceMr Billington says he is defending the historic right of juries to acquit according to conscience (Image: Newsquest)

“While they may technically have broken the law, juries have found their actions justified and acquitted them.”

He added: “Nationally, a person was arrested for defending the right of juries to make a decision based on conscience, rather than just technical legalities.”

Mr Billington braved the plunging winter temperatures for more than an hour, between 8.45am and 10am on the morning of December 4 to promote his cause.

Hundreds of people across the country have joined him, outside courts in Manchester, Preston, Liverpool and elsewhere nationwide.

Mr Billington said that the protests were prompted after recent concerns about measures the courts were taking in restricting the roles of juries in making their decisions.

The national case he referred to is that of 68-year-old retired social worker Trudi Warner.

In September solicitor general Michael Tomlinson KC announced he would prosecute her for contempt of court after she held a similar sign outside Inner London Crown Court in March.

In October two women were arrested by the Metropolitan Police for similar actions.

Mr Billington now says that future actions by Defend Our Juries campaigners will depend on the reactions their efforts on Monday prompt.

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A Defend Our Juries spokesperson said: “Juries are a common sense check on the law.

“They ensure that judges, law makers and governments cannot abuse their power and use British courtrooms to do their dirty work for them. 

"The right of juries to acquit a defendant according to their conscience has been enshrined in British law for centuries, and we must protect it.”

They added: “Let our juries hear the whole truth and let them reach a fair and true verdict without judicial interference!”