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.

Comments are usually moderated. However, I do not accept any legal responsibility for the content of any comment. If any comment seems submitted just to advertise a website it will not be published.

Monday, 6 July 2015


I`ve been keeping a close watch of late on the activities of the Magistrates Association.  And there`s good reason to be interested; a sentiment which has been posted here more than once in the last couple of months primarily in that organisation`s quest to increase its income from new sources.  It might be a million miles from a FIFA situation but when a controller of services required  receives income from research supplied to organisations which provide such services at that controller`s  request albeit indirectly it is hardly surprising that eyebrows are raised. But today my observations are a little more factually based upon a combination of two comments in the media from officers of the M.A.

On July 4th The Times published a letter from the M.A.`s Chairman Richard Monkhouse.  I have copied it below:-

I posted at length on 02/07/2015 my opinion of the LCJ`s thoughts on the removal of the dock insofar as Magistrates` Courts are concerned.  It seems that my thoughts are way out of line from those of the esteemed letter writer above.  But more to my point today is his assertion concerning defendants being enclosed in a dock that "Magistrates.........have long voiced concern about its use and its influence......." From my own experience and from knowledge of others` opinions I would assert that this statement is pure fiction and is made from ignorance or to serve the writer`s own situation to ingratiate himself with the senior judiciary. In the remainder of the letter  he neatly puts an opposing view from the opening  in the style of a true politician. It is just another example of a few people speaking for themselves without the interest or care of the silent majority which for its own reasons let them be put in place.  

My second comment is based upon a podcast made on  by the M.A.`s CEO Chris Brace and Deputy Chairman M.A. Malcolm Richardson detailing the M.A.`s Board of Trustees recent meeting of May 19th.  During the podcast where mention was made of a drastic drop in income owing to an equally  drastic drop in membership fees from "retiring and resigning  members" no mention was made at all of possible reasons why members were resigning.  Retirements are self explanatory but one would have thought that an organisation would do all it could to discover why resignations were occurring and discuss it at a Trustee`s meeting assuming the podcast was  a full and frank  report. Presumably a full minute will also be available of said meeting or perhaps not.......I don`t know.  In any event any marketing expert would tell them that it costs perhaps thirty times as much to recruit new customers as it does to retain existing ones.  Whilst that is not an exact analogy it points a finger.  

Perhaps I can offer an explanation.  An organisation which appears to many of its members as a vehicle primarily for the agrandisement of a few, which seems to have little control over the destination to which government is taking its members  and which for decades has paid lip service to its members` needs for the services of a truly functioning protective organisation offering benefits of representation against possible accusations laid against said members is not worthy of annual dues.  Never mind..........M.A. has assets in cash of approaching £2 million and owns the freehold of its Fitzrovia headquarters which will be worth much more than that.  Where all that came from is beyond the resources of this blogger.  So don`t shed a tear when questions start being asked about its developing relationships with those newly set up probation companies to whom it is supplying research information at £10,000 a throw.  Perhaps Lord Gnome will have an answer in the fullness of time. 

1 comment:

  1. I am so glad you pick up on things like this. In all my 30 years I have never engaged in a conversation with colleagues about whether or not we like the dock. It is there, does it's job, protects us and the other court users when necessary and we get on with what we have to do. Does the LCJ want to see defendants in orange boiler suits sitting next to their attorney albeit manacled and shackled in case they might prove to be a problem. As I said before - LCJ you must get out more and take some of your senior colleagues with you rather than doing 'road shows' to explain the new HMCTS rationalisation plans.