WE at the Oxford Mail are, like the majority of right-thinking people in this country, hugely sympathetic to Andrew Harper’s family.

They suffered a harrowing experience that no family should have to go through, then they were forced to relive that experience not once but twice at a murder trial and then a retrial.

This nightmare was compounded by the fact that the low-life thugs who killed Andrew Harper showed little or no remorse for their actions.

If they had been convicted of murder, there would have been no tears at the Oxford Mail.

But they weren’t.

A jury of citizens, randomly chosen to carry out their civic duty on behalf of their country, listened to the harrowing evidence, the horrific detail, for weeks on end; saw the behaviour and the character of the defendants, and then when they were asked the simple question – did these teenagers murder Andrew Harper? – they gave the question full consideration and concluded that they did not.

Andrew Harper's widow Lissie and other members of his family do not agree with the jury's conclusion.

Now they are demanding yet another trial for these crimes.

Part of their argument is that they believe the jury was tampered with, and if this is concluded to be the case, then we must consider the verdicts.

However, to imply the jury did not do their job as well as they should is an extremely serious allegation.

Our justice system is based on the principle that anonymous jurors, chosen at random, are the best possible way to reach verdicts in criminal trials, and those who serve on juries must not be intimidated or pressured by anyone.

If a retrial is ordered, then that decision must be respected.

In the meantime, we must all be extremely careful about the language we use to talk about those citizens who did their best to carry out their civic duty for their country.