I very much wanted Judge I and Judge J in the "hanky-panky with the Brazilian cleaning lady" case to be famed and distinguished and esteemed. I required them to be elevated sorts whose high office demanded humble submission and respect' bewigged, red-robed, port- drinking, Stilton-eating stalwarts of the Old Bailey who had fallen from grace and great heights.
Shamefully forgetting for a brief moment that these days women can be judges too, I imagined both individuals to be men. They were rather older, fat-faced, jowly men who, following in the long, public school tradition, savour sex of the Miss Whiplash variety with anything that moves whether it be male, female or the cleaning lady's feather duster. In my mind's eye they were rotund, florid and, forgive me, gambolling about on all fours in their wigs and robes of office, their sponge-bag trousers dropped to reveal Wodehousian sock suspenders and large polka-dotted underpants. The whole affair was a saucy postcard, a Mac cartoon starring their shared cleaner, nudge, nudge, Miss Roselane Driza in a French maid's uniform, making free with a mop handle. On discovering that Judge J was in fact a woman (a detail mentioned in paragraph two of most news stories, which I had failed to grasp) I refused to be too disappointed and merely changed my mental picture so that James Robertson Justice became Hat-tie Jacques playing a dame of the realm. But by Thursday lunchtime the fantasy was over as Judge I was revealed to be no one more distinguished or roly-poly than Mohammed Ilyas Khan. Not a man of great legal stature but an immigration judge, (this too was pointed out in earlier reports but missed by me in my eagerness to sustain an Ealing comedy fantasy featuring a banging gavel and a booming, portentous demand to "send the prisoner down".) Mr Khan is to all intents and purposes a barrister who does a bit of judging, among other things, nudge, nudge again, on the side. He is a man of such low repute it would seem that his own family will have nothing to do with him. One thin- lipped judge keen to distance himself and his profession from the goings-on said lastweek that the recent demand for immigration judges had led to large-scale appointments and possibly a lowering of standards. Another pointed out that the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal was a separate judicial branch. Separate from what isn't mentioned, just separate enough for no one else in the legal profession to be tainted by Khan's cavortings or his, presumably, feigned lack of knowledge as to Miss Driza's lack of visa.
Most regretful for me however, was the lack of port or Stilton in Mr Khan's working life' there were just workaday suits and files. It isn't snobbery that made me feel this way and I won't sneer at his likely lack of sock suspenders or his pants, which are probably of the brief, or even thong variety and from Calvin Klein not Billings and Edmonds. But what Mr Khan lacks most, and this is what caused the disappointment, is what the stereotypical gout ridden Old Bailey judge would, appropriately enough, call bottom. Bottom is like gravitas' it is weight, authority and dignity, despite the shaming, toe-curling fall, and it comes with the job but only if the job is a pretty damn senior one. For my mental picture to be accurate Mr Khan would be a man who, as he walked, disgraced, from his chambers, his head held high, would still warrant a doffing of caps and a send off into retirement oblivion to heartfelt shouts of "Gawd bless yer, guv'nor." I want to be able to tug my forelock, even at disgraced judges. I want to show deference for ' a person who despite their high office, is only human after all.
The Queen demands a doffing of caps and bucket-loads of deference, as Jeremy Paxman found out at a Buckingham Palace reception. Paxman has written a nice book about royalty, (which he admits is odd for someone who described himself as a republican, "with a full set of coherent democratic prejudices about the world") and he has asked himself, "What were we doing with this family at the head of a 21st-century state? …