Plot twist

A former Irwin Mitchell lawyer has been suspended for eight years by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal after she wrecked a child sexual abuse trial in which she was sitting as a juror.

Caroline Mitchell, who was a civil law solicitor at the personal injury firm, served four weeks in jail in 2022 after admitting to carrying out internet research on a case while she was a juror, against the instructions of the judge.

The matter has now been heard before the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal, where the SRA argued that Mitchell had jeopardised the case, caused a costly retrial and failed to maintain public trust in the legal profession. 

Mitchell told the tribunal that the incident arose when she was looking up properties on the site Rightmove for personal research one evening, during the trial. She said that while she was perusing the site, without thinking about her actions, she began searching for a key address mentioned in the trial.

She found details about that property and considered whether there was information that could assist the case, such as the room dimensions, as an issue had arisen over whether the complainant shared a bedroom. Mitchell found a neighbouring property's floorplan and took a screenshot on her iPad, which she then showed to the jury the following day. 

A court clerk spotted Mitchell viewing her iPad in the jury room, which resulted in the judge ordering that the entire jury be discharged. The trial was abandoned, at a reported cost of around £80,000, and the alleged victim and perpetrator had to wait eight months for a new trial, and had to give their evidence again.

Mitchell said that her conduct was not a deliberate act to defy the judge's warnings, but a mistake at the end of a hard day sitting on a difficult case. She expressed remorse and said she was "mortified" that she had let everyone down. 

The tribunal noted that Mitchell had been motivated by her investment in the case and “trying to obtain a just outcome”. However, in its ruling, the SDT said that Mitchell had “caused significant harm as a result of her conduct, both to the reputation of the profession and the witnesses in the trial”. 

The tribunal said that although her misconduct did not justify a strike-off, it ruled it was not appropriate for Mitchell to practise during the period that she had been disqualified from jury service. 

The tribunal therefore suspended Mitchell for eight years and ordered that she pay £5,000 in costs.

Irwin Mitchell declined to comment specifically on the matter, but noted that Mitchell (no relation) was acting as a juror in a personal capacity, and it had nothing to do with any Irwin Mitchell work. A spokesman for the firm confirmed that she resigned from Irwin Mitchell following the incident.

LU icon Firms ping LawyerUp when they like you for a role - available on the App Store and Google Play.

Tip Off ROF


Asturias Es Mi Patria 26 January 24 09:01

Wait, I understand that juries can’t become investigators or dig through social media articles on the trial but ( especially in a long trial) it’s simply no longer realistic to bar a jury from the internet or iPads etc

how are room dimensions from a website open to public so prejudicial as to warrant this?

Blimey 26 January 24 10:02

When these stories come up, I'm always amazed that people tell other jurors that they've been researching.  I'm sure loads of jurors go home and Google the defendant out of curiosity.  To then point it out to other jurors is just stupid.

Anonymous man 26 January 24 10:02

Having worked with her years ago she is a genuinely lovely person and a great lawyer who has helped countless vulnerable clients through her work and it would have been a shame if she were lost to the profession.  I am glad it’s not a strike off and hopefully she will be back in circulation in the future when her suspension ends.

Anonymous 26 January 24 10:29

"she is a genuinely lovely person and a great lawyer who has helped countless vulnerable clients through her work and it would have been a shame if she were lost to the profession".  

Come on Caro... you've just had one rap on the knuckles for not being subtle enough about it. Don't make the same mistake twice in a row.

Anonymous Anonymous 26 January 24 10:54

Must be struck off. Gives a bad impression on the legal profession. She was advised by the court not to do a internet research on a case while she was a juror. 



Asturias Es Mi Patria 26 January 24 12:38


Do you seriously  think that no jurors ever use google and this is the one rare  exception that the system has proportionately responded to??


Office Drone 26 January 24 13:14

Eight years is a bit harsh for this... yes, she shouldn't have gone against express instructions from the court but we live in a digital age. The reality is that people will do online research, if not in the court house, than at home. It's naive to think otherwise.

A fine, reprimand and perhaps a direction to have her practice supervised or a shorter suspension (1 to 3 years) sounds fairer to me...

Anonymous 26 January 24 13:21

@Office Drone - the trial was delayed by 8 months as a result. Imagine the effect that must have had on those involved.

anon 26 January 24 13:49

I feel for her. Stupid thing to do but don't the SRA have more pressing priorities? Cough Post Office cough

Anonymous 26 January 24 17:36

In BC, Canada where I practise, lawyers and law students are among specified groups of people barred from being on juries.  I can see that she might have looked up the property and kept that information to herself, but to take steps to show the other jurors her findings the next day tipped her well over the line.  As a lawyer she should know better.  Evidence - which is what she generated - must only be presented by Crown and defence, and in court.  

Anon 26 January 24 20:48

For the record, having known Caroline for many years, she is a lovely woman, she was a talented lawyer and was always focused on doing her best for her clients. Im sure that nearly all that have know her would say the same. 

Anon 27 January 24 21:47

How  can she be defended? This is very bad. Lifetime ban was better outcome. 

Abdabs 27 January 24 22:43

The Judge gave a clear warning; she disobeyed. Its contempt of court pure and simple. Harsh as it might be the integrity of the justice system depends on people following the rules. There could have been a miscarriage of justice.

Anon 28 January 24 03:31


It is trite that many jurors use Google. The whole system is grossly out of touch. But the sacrosanct idea that a juror is not allowed/supposed to be tainted by external factors, is a legal fiction that has to be maintained.  The law, after all, is built upon countless legal fictions that we accept in order to keep the system going.

M’Lord 28 January 24 20:08

Intentional drink driving for financial gain (avoiding a taxi) = Fine. A naive search for the truth = 8 year ban. Discuss. 

I am sorry, but if this ought properly to be appealed. 

Secret Squiggle 31 January 24 00:24

I met this lady when I did a vac scheme with IM almost 20 years ago. She was lovely. This seems really heavy handed for what was a stupid mistake. Compare it to Axiom's conduct... or the SRA's for that matter....

Anonymous 01 February 24 08:25

Would the public, and that is the gallery the SRA plays to/claims to want to protect, think 1 year was sufficient punishment?

8 years is ridiculous.  

Anon 01 February 24 20:25

I wonder - if the jury could get hold of the footprint of the house, then why couldn't either Counsel? 

Yes it was a mistake for a jury member to do that, but... 

I hope the solicitor moves on swiftly, and gains the support required.  There has been much worse things happen...

Related News