Whorlton Hall Prosecution – 15 March 2023

At 10:50 this morning the jury were brought back into court for the cross examination of Olivia Davies to continue (her first day giving evidence was reported here, her second day here). Ms Davies was the undercover BBC journalist who was working as a support worker at Whorlton Hall and recorded over 200 hours of covert footage which was passed to the police, and in turn led to this prosecution.

At the close of the day yesterday Ms Davies was being cross-examined by Mr Patton, who represents Niall Mellor. He asked her whether the guideline she’d been given to look at this morning, had assisted her.

Ms Davies said it had refreshed her memory, and in response to a follow up question asked whether she could read from it, in a somewhat shaky voice commenting:

“Throughout my training there were so many seniors signing off this document, I’m trying to say this was much higher than me, these were decisions much higher than me”.

HHJ Smith interjected to ask whether there were copies of the guideline to which Mr Patton was referring, and Ms Davies had asked to read, to show to him and the jury. When Mr Patton was asked if there was any reason why the jury could not be given the document, he replied saying he did not think it would assist them in their inquiry.

Ms Richardson had no objection to the document being shared, Mr Normanton, who represents Karen McGhee, asked to raise a matter in the absence of the jury. They left court shortly before 11am for a short adjournment, and Ms Davies was asked to wait outside.

After a prolonged adjournment, the jury were brought back into court at 14:28 and HHJ Smith told them this:

Sometimes its all a bit unpredictable. I thought you might have time for a cup of tea but things have arisen, a matter of law has arisen which means we cant make any further progress today, there is good reason, I know you will trust me on that on why we can’t [proceed].

I’m giving you tomorrow off and Friday, that’s because this court, that is to say me, has another different case, nothing to do with these defendants, to deal with…. So you’ve got two days off, what you do with those days is entirely up to you, by which I mean whether you return to work to help your employer or you don’t…. however please bear this in mind you’re on jury service so the decision is entirely up to you and your employer cant interfere with the fact I’ll be welcoming you back on Monday next week.

Timetable. I can tell you behind the scenes, sometimes outside the hours the court is sitting, all counsel are working hard and narrowing issues and shortening the evidence… I am told by Ms Richardson the prosecution believes, they’re in the hot seat at the moment because they’re presenting their case, they believe the case is still on time…. I’m told the time we’ve regrettably lost is actually being made up.

I’ve told you the days are free to do what you want, subject of course to the rider you’re not free to do research or discuss it outside…. Four days off, see you on Monday, thank you very much.

The jury were dismissed at 14:31.

The case is tabled to continue on Monday morning.

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