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25th Sep 2023

Suella Braverman could be in contempt of court over Chris Kaba tweets

‘What was she thinking?’

Former chief prosecutor Nazir Afzal has suggested Suella Braverman could be in contempt of court over social media posts that pertain to an ongoing murder trial.

A Met Police officer appeared in court on Thursday in relation to the fatal shooting of Chris Kaba, 24, who was unarmed when he was shot and killed in south London last year.

The officer accused of his murder, named only as NX121 after a district judge granted an anonymity order, appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court and the Old Bailey, with strict guidelines on the reporting of the case currently in place.

Last year, the solicitor general ordered editors, publishers and social media users not to publish material which could prejudice ongoing criminal investigations and potential prosecutions.

The Rt Hon Michael Tomlinson KC MP made it clear that “publishing this material could amount to contempt of court.”

Braverman, a former lawyer and attorney general, seems to have ignored that request, taking to social media to post: “We depend on our brave firearms officers to protect us from the most dangerous and violent in society”, adding that they “mustn’t fear ending up in the dock for carrying out their duties”.

Responding to the tweet, Afzal said it is the view of every criminal lawyer he has spoken to that Braverman has “overstepped the mark” prejudging the case and thereby potentially prejudicing it.

Others, such as Alastair Campbell, tweeted that Alex Chalk, the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, should be looking into it, while The Secret Barrister pointed to an instance where Priti Patel also derailed a serious criminal trial after she too took to Twitter (now X) to share her opinions.

It has also been suggested that the home office could have been talking in generic terms about firearms officers and the incredibly difficult task they have and that she is well within her rights to make that point, especially in a bid to provide reassurance to those contemplating handing in their “ticket” to use firearms.

Braverman’s post came after a large number of Metropolitan Police officers stepped back from firearms duties in the wake of a murder charge over a shooting.

More than 100 police officers have handed in their tickets, an accreditation to permit them to carry firearms while on the job, according to the BBC.

To deal with the police walkout, officers from neighbouring forces stepped up to help patrol the capital on Saturday night.

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