Chris Kaba: Judge issues contempt of court warning in murder case

Chris Kaba  (PA Media)
Chris Kaba (PA Media)

The judge in the Chris Kaba murder case has issued a stern Contempt of Court warning over public comments made since a police officer was charged over the fatal shooting.

The Met Police firearms officer – identified only as NX121 – is facing a criminal charge over the shooting of Mr Kaba, 24, in a car stop in Streatham last September.

In an unusual intervention Judge Mark Lucraft KC, the Recorder of London, called in barristers in the case for a 4.30pm hearing at the Old Bailey on Tuesday.

The hearing was called after public comments had been made in the aftermath of the police officer being charged with murder and appearing in court for the first time last week.

“A hearing took place at the Old Bailey on September 26 to address concerns raised in relation to some of the pre-trial publicity in the case of NX121. It followed comments made since the hearing on September 21”, said the judge.

“The court reminds every one of the obligation on all of us to ensure we comply with the Contempt of Court process and ensure nothing is said which could in any way be thought to prejudice ongoing criminal proceedings.”

The decision to charge NX121 led to high-profile public commentary about the case and the role of police officers carrying guns.

It was reported that more than 100 Metropolitan Police officers stood down from firearms duties over the weekend and the Army was put on standby to help out with duties protecting Londoners.

Soldiers have now been stood down after some of the police officers agreed to return to their roles.

Speaking to the Standard on Monday, Sir Bob Neill, chairman of the Commons justice committee, said public figures must be careful when commenting about issues that arise in ongoing criminal cases.

“Of course there are legitimate broader political issues that may arise from individual cases”, he said.

“But you have to be extremely careful of making any linkage between those and individual cases.

“That is what the rules of contempt of court are about.”

Contempt of Court rules set out that nothing should be done in the lead-up to a criminal trial that may cause a substantial risk of prejudicing the jury in the case.

Another hearing in NX121’s case is scheduled to take place next Wednesday.