Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Petulant Politician Must Not Interfere with Judiciary; Columnist

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Petulant Politician Must Not Interfere with Judiciary; Columnist

Article excerpt

Byline: Bernard Trafford

THE Home Secretary, Theresa May, is furious.

Judges aren't doing what she tells them!

Last week she reckoned they ought to deport more foreign criminals and accused them of making Britain a more dangerous place by allowing human rights arguments to permit them to stay in this country.

This week newspapers report that the Crown Prosecution Service is not giving difficult cases (those not guaranteed to proceed smoothly to a conviction) to top counsel because they cost too much. Instead, they're being kept in-house.

Engaging the best barristers to ensure successful prosecution is expensive, but difficult cases need the best to see them through.

Surely we can't start planning justice on a cost basis? There's an outcry when health authorities deem a life-saving drug too expensive to be prescribed to, say, a cancer patient. We're unwilling to put a price on life.

So why should we put a price on justice? Difficult cases where the CPS declines to spend serious money would probably include rape. Rape cases are notoriously hard to prosecute: traumatised victims can be too damaged or intimidated to give reliable evidence.

They need expert lawyers to support them and help them through, and to pursue the case to the end, because a collapsed trial risks a rapist walking free.

Can we risk that, just to save the CPS some cash? As for Mrs May's frustration with the judiciary, Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights deals with the right to a family life and some judges have declined to deport foreign criminals because their families are here with them.

It's all too easy, when it comes to matters of law, to adopt the man-down-the -pub view: "These foreign villains, they should just kick 'em out. And their kids with 'em."

Fortunately, the law works rather more carefully and subtly. Judges uphold the law and the law must uphold human rights. A law lacking that fundamental basis is not a law worth having. …

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