Decision to Axe Welsh Translations in Assembly Stirs Action; Move May Face Court Challenge

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), September 4, 2009 | Go to article overview
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Decision to Axe Welsh Translations in Assembly Stirs Action; Move May Face Court Challenge


Byline: David Williamson

THE team responsible for running the National Assembly may face a court battle and a formal investigation into its decision to drop Welsh translations of English spoken in the Assembly.

Last month the Assembly Commission confirmed that English passages would no longer be translated into Welsh in the Record of Proceedings.

Yesterday, it emerged that the Welsh language pressure group Cymdeithas yr Iaith has sought legal advice and will decide in a fortnight whether to challenge the commission in the high courts.

It is understood the Welsh Language Board is also seeking advice and may conduct its own formal investigation into the commission's decision.

It is further understood that in a letter on August 28, Assembly chief executive Claire Clancy argued that the decision did not violate the Assembly's Welsh language scheme and that the board did not have the power to launch an investigation.

But Welsh barrister Gwion Lewis believes a high court judge may well rule that the commission was wrong not to consult with the Welsh Language Board before making its decision.

Mr Lewis, a specialist in language law at London's Landmark Chambers, said: "Two years' ago the Assembly signed off on a language plan that said there'd be provision for a word-for-word bilingual transcript. It also said that any changes to that plan would not be made without first consulting the Welsh Language Board.

"We fast-forward to 2009 ...

[and learn] that the Assembly Commission has made a unilateral decision no longer to require what is said in English to be transcribed into Welsh. They made that decision without consulting the Welsh Language Board."

He continued: "If a public body says it will follow a particular consultative route before it makes a decision, then the courts will expect that method of consultation to be followed. If it goes back on what it says publicly, the court will consider that - very likely in my experience - to be an illogical decision...

"It's reasonable for them to expect a public body to act in accordance with what it says publicly.

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Decision to Axe Welsh Translations in Assembly Stirs Action; Move May Face Court Challenge
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