Notwithstanding the above I am indebted to a commenter for bringing to my attention this case. After a verdict of not guilty had been announced the bench chairman Dr Ian Haffenden is quoted in the penultimate paragraph as saying, “although we think that the defendant may have taken the items, the prosecution has not proved it so”. If this were in a Scottish courtroom the verdict would have been not proven and would have been respected as such. In England, however, it is an absolute disgrace. The chairman has cast aspersions on a woman his bench found to be not guilty because they applied the test; beyond reasonable doubt. To confirm their doubt is beyond belief. There is a tradition, I know no better, that even if a decision is split 2:1 a bench must not make that public. This bench chairman should be held to account before the appropriate authority. He was out of order. However it is unlikely that the defendant will have the wherewithal intellectually or financially to pursue that option. Indeed it is possible that her relief in being found not guilty will in itself be enough satisfaction for her.
Before I was appointed a chairman I sat often enough to observe not a few occupants of the middle chair who liked the sound of their own voice too much for their own good. I took note to put a five second mental delay before a major input to proceedings and to make that input as pithy as possible whilst ensuring my meaning and intention were clear to all. That, in my opinion, is common sense; a requirement for appointment 20 years ago but sadly no longer so.