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 If any comment seems submitted just to advertise a website it will not be published.

Friday, 23 October 2015


Those more qualified than I express the view that Margaret Thatcher`s political assassination stemmed from her stubborn insistence that, against much advice, the poll tax should be implemented. Scotland was used as a try out and despite the enormous opposition there she insisted it be rolled out nationally.  Public disorder on a level rarely seen until then eventually led to her downfall and her successor John Major kicking the hated tax into history to be replaced by council tax.  That anecdote can be related directly to the Criminal Courts Charge; an iniquitous ill thought out tax brought in with apparently little consideration to its effects and practicalities. It made its first public appearance in February 2014 and in a contemporary  report it seems the Bar Council saw nothing to oppose in the intended legislation. And  note the hope to raise £80 million a year when it is thought that to date the actual amount so far actually paid since April  is less than £500K ; about 10% of the amount levied.    As far as what seems to be in the  public domain the Magistrates Association did not voice its criticism until earlier this year. It is about time that organisation opened its files to its members and the public.  After all the Official Secrets Act is not involved. The blunt truth is that it has been inept and incompetent.  Its toadying up to Whitehall has achieved little.  All those involved should resign.  

And do not overlook the media.  For the last couple of months or so rarely a week goes by without a critical article in the serious newspapers and others.  Yesterday`s in The Times {behind its paywall} was preceded by one similar in the F.T on 18th October.  But where were all these highly paid journalists when Grayling was finalising this legislation?  Presumably they knew of its process through parliament.  A moment`s original thought would have led them to consider probable consequences  but not a word was heard from them until it was too late.  They surely know a winning bandwagon to jump on. 

How did this crass piece of law emerge from Petty France?  Either the weasels there were so incompetent that they did not foresee the consequences that are now such a column filler  for  those aforesaid journalists or they were supine in the extreme in the face of a self seeking incompetent Secretary of State whose political activities seem to defy Darwin`s survival of the fittest but I suppose politics, where there is still space for Neanderthal tactics,  is above evolution.  The bottom line, however, is that there is an abominable  piece of legislation causing unneeded misery in our courtrooms every day of the week and that it is the weakest, poorest and most pityful  members of society who are carrying the can for ineptitude on a grand scale.  This libertarian Tory lite  sees the same folly at work with the current anguish over tax credits. Plus ça change..........

1 comment:

  1. Although I agree with your judgement on the charge itself, with respect I think you are wrong about its similarity to the Poll Tax - and it is the same reason why there was hardly any comment outside the legal profession before it took effect: most people are not affected by it.

    Those who are rightly incensed about its injustice will remain, I am afraid, a minority. The voiceless poor, the imprisoned and a smattering of motorists are unlikely to achieve sufficient pressure for a general public turning against the government.