Confidentiality, contempt of court and ministers of religion: R v Warner

Mr Warner is a Jehovah’s Witness. In R v Warner [2020] EWCA Crim 499, he was appealing against a fine for contempt of court which, it was alleged, took place during a criminal trial before HHJ Linford and a jury in the Crown Court at Truro in July 2018 [2].

The background

The defendant in that trial, Mr Davies, had been charged with inflicting grievous bodily harm after an incident outside a Kingdom Hall of the Jehovah’s Witnesses in January 2018 in which the victim, Mr Jones, had suffered a fractured hip. Mr Warner saw the incident and when called as a witness at Mr Davies’s prosecution, gave evidence that he had seen Mr Davies push Mr Jones from behind, causing Mr Jones to fall heavily to the ground [3].

Mr Warner also said that, after an investigation by the JWs’ judicial committee, Mr Davies had been “disfellowshipped”: expelled from the Congregation. He was asked if he knew that it had been because Mr Davies had been accused of using cannabis and who had chaired the judicial committee. He replied that he could not answer because it was confidential. Continue reading