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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Wednesday, 9 November 2016


Below is copied an exchange yesterday in the House of Lords. It seems incredible that the answer by Lord Keen [bottom of post] is so ambiguous.  With many in the legal world opposed to extending magistrates` sentencing powers to 12 months custody it would be unthinkable that any government spokesman could not confirm that existing rights of appeal for offenders in that scenario would not be granted but then just occasionally the unthinkable actually happens.


Lord Faulks Conservative

Will my noble and learned friend take this opportunity to show the Government’s support for the entire cohort of the judiciary, whether it be the Supreme Court, the Divisional Court or the magistracy? Can he also confirm that, were magistrates to be given additional powers, it is overwhelmingly likely that those sentencing powers would be subject to a right of appeal, as of right, to the Crown Court?

Photo of Lord Keen of Elie Lord Keen of Elie The Advocate-General for Scotland, Lords Spokesperson (Ministry of Justice)

My Lords, we have a judiciary of the highest calibre. We have a free press, which is not always of the highest calibre. Sensationalist and ill-informed attacks can undermine public confidence in the judiciary, but our public can have every confidence in our judiciary, a confidence which I believe must be shared by the Executive.

Photo of Baroness McIntosh of Hudnall Baroness McIntosh of Hudnall Deputy Chairman of Committees, Deputy Speaker (Lords)

My Lords, would the Minister return to the second question asked by his noble friend Lord Faulks, which I believe he did not answer?

Photo of Lord Keen of Elie Lord Keen of Elie The Advocate-General for Scotland, Lords Spokesperson (Ministry of Justice)

I apologise for having overlooked the second part of the question, having been distracted by the first part. I acknowledge that the second part of the question is in point. The question of an automatic right of appeal if sentencing powers are increased clearly has to be an important consideration.

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