Putting Principles into Practice: Mock Admissibility Hearing on Open Source Evidence
Digital open source information can provide vital information to supplement traditional forms of evidence, particularly in contexts where such evidence may not be readily available or accessible, such as in the ongoing conflict in Yemen. In the context of our work on accountability for violations of international law in Yemen, GLAN and Bellingcat have designed a methodology for the collection and preservation of digital open source information, with the aim of increasing the likelihood of this evidence being admitted and given due weight in criminal proceedings. Issues surrounding the admissibility and weight of digital open source information have not yet been fully tested in the courts of England and Wales.
This hearing explored the admissibility of online open source evidence in a mock criminal trial. It aimed to robustly test GLAN and Bellingcat’s methodology against traditional principles of evidence, in order to anticipate challenges and strengthen our methodology. Ultimately, we hope the insights gained from this event will improve the utility of open source evidence in legal proceedings in a variety of domestic and international fora. The hearing concerned the admissibility into evidence of a real video depicting an airstrike in Yemen in a fictional trial, with legal arguments put forward by prosecution and defence counsel, witness and expert evidence subjected to cross-examination, and a final judicial determination. This engagement informs a longer term project that seeks to put emerging principles around digital evidence in legal proceedings into practice with lessons learned shared publicly and with key partners and stakeholders.
* H.H. Judge Joanna Korner CMG QC
Prosecution and Defence counsel teams led by:
* Helen Malcolm QC, Three Raymond Buildings
* Andrew Cayley QC, Temple Garden Chambers
* Joshua Kern, 9 Bedford Row
* Shina Animashaun, Garden Court Chambers