Now that I am retired having been many years a magistrate with a long awareness of the declining freedoms enjoyed by the ordinary citizen and a corresponding fear of the big brother state`s ever increasing encroachment on civil liberties I hope that my personal observations within these general parameters will be of interest to those with an open mind. Having been blogging with this title for many years against the rules of the Ministry of Justice my new found freedom should allow me to be less inhibited in these observations.




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Thursday, 3 July 2014

JUSTICE UNDER RESOURCED? IT`S THE ECONOMY STUPID

Currently there is much controversy over the prosecuting policies of the CPS. The conviction on all charges of Rolf Harris has gone a long way, some would argue, to justify the time and cost of investigating the activities of those reprehensible examples of humanity. On the other hand the very logical response of the Attorney General regarding convictions for rape has provided ammunition for those whose standard of required proof might fall short of beyond a reasonable doubt. Such extremes of opinion are visible to any visitor to a trial held at a magistrates` court.

A recent sitting featuring two trials could have been filmed as a demonstration of the width between good and bad judgement by the CPS. In the former case an elderly defendant with a long history of offending had pleaded not guilty in a low level sexual offences matter where the prosecution case was nothing less than overwhelming. The complainant and an independent witness were as forthright in their testimonies as one could wish. Even with very competent counsel the defendant had as much chance as a snowball in hell in establishing any doubt in our minds. On the other hand the evidence from a complainant in a very minor matter of public (dis)order and criminal damage resulting from an innocuous road rage encounter was as thin as a strand emanating from a silkworm. The complainant in evidence admitted having lied to police, tampering with the alleged damage, behaving aggressively and herself having initiated the whole episode. We threw the case out at half time. With just a modicum of investigation and some little insight by police and CPS at a very early stage it should have been put into the waste paper basket where hundreds of such cases no doubt should end up.

Such a waste of time and resources is as much to do with the actions of this government and in particular the Justice Ministry as more widely propagated examples of ineptitude and blind adherence to a mantra of cutting public funding irrespective of the consequences longer term. Oh, I almost forgot.........there`s an election next May where the winning ticket has printed upon it (according to one advisor to Bill Clinton); “It`s the economy stupid”.

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