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, 21 July 2016

THE PRESCIENCE OF GEORGE ORWELL

So once again a sporting celebrity or hero or icon, call him what you will, seems to have overpowered the common sense of a lay bench by force of his personality status and a good lawyer.  This time it was "Freddie" Flintoff; he of past cricketing fame.  His speeding offence had a  punishment financially  at Level 3 (max £1,000) and a Band B  fine regulated at  100% weekly income although there is discretion to fine in the range 75% - 125%.  The news report of his hearing gives no indication of the offender`s plea but I would assume it was guilty and so allowed a reduction of one third in the amount of fine.  Driving penalty for his offence is 4 - 6 penalty points or a discretionary disqualification of 7 - 28 days.  £500 fine plus extras and four points seems to this observer to have been arrived at by assuming income at £1,000 weekly; a vast  under estimate IMHO and applying the lowest 75% available. This seems to be a bench in awe of the offender`s status.  To the general public it will be seen as another example of rich and famous people getting off easy.  That is bad for justice and bad for society. It adds to the current malaise of a large section of a population feeling removed from those with power and wealth who have influence and control of their lives and the plebs who must do as they are commanded.  In the view of many commentators this somewhat unquantifiable phenomenon underlay the success of the LEAVE campaign and has similarities with the motivations of those supporting Trump in the U.S. 

The lay bench is supposed to be representative of the society from which it has been appointed. I doubt many in Manchester would agree. Once again it seems that George Orwell had it right all these years ago.

2 comments:

  1. Come on JotP, you seem to have left your lack of bias behind you on the bench when you retired. One thing I learned in my 12 years as a magistrate was not to show fear or favour, which means not showing bias among other things, whether to paupers or billionaires.

    Mr Flinthoff was indeed speeding, but at 58mph in a 40mph; as you say the worst our friends in Manchester could have done was 6 pts or a 28-day ban, but as it was only just into the second tier, and he had not offended for two years, I presume that his guilty plea prompted the 4 points, and applying proportionality the fine of £500 plus VS and costs.

    I would have done exactly the same in my traffic court: better that he has now 10 points hanging over him for the next year than a couple of weeks off the road. I can't recall ever having given a speeding fine higher than this; there is a £1000 maximum for speeding, but again is that proportionate to the offence now matter how rich or famous you are?

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  2. I make no comment on the penalty but it is good to see that a 'celebrity' was dealt with by a tribunal of three justices, rather than by a DJ or DDJ which is what invariably happened at our central London court.

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