A law professor from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) was asked by the media to provide his expert opinion on the retrial of Isle of Man Attorney General, Stephen Harding.
Professor Richard Taylor, Director of Research for Lancashire Law School and a contributor to Blackstone’s Criminal Practice, was interviewed by Manx Radio following the formal acquittal of the Manx government's most senior legal advisor.
In an interview with the Island’s radio station, Professor Taylor explained how he believed that the initial decision to prosecute the Attorney General should be regarded as healthy for democracy - and proof that those in the highest office can be held to account.
Mr Harding faced charges of perjury and acts against public justice, which he had always denied. He originally faced trial in December 2013 but a jury of seven was discharged after failing to reach unanimous verdicts.
A two week retrial began on 3 February 2014, but on 15 February the jury in this second trial were also unable to agree on a verdict and were discharged by Deemster Birkett. The prosecution did not seek a third trial, which would have been quite exceptional, and therefore Mr Harding was formally acquitted on 24th February.
Mr Harding, 52, was suspended from his role as the main legal adviser to the Manx government in 2012. It was alleged that he lied under oath during an Advocates Disciplinary Tribunal in 2010 and ‘submitted false documents’.
The charges related to the period between April 2010 and September 2010, when Mr Harding was a Manx government advocate, a position he had held since 1992.
In his radio interview Professor Taylor also reflected on the need for a Manx jury of seven to reach a verdict they all agree. In England and Wales, where 12 jurors deliberate, majority verdicts can in certain circumstances be allowed but normally there have to be at least ten jurors in agreement.