25 February 2013 by Alex Varley-Winter
Government cuts ‘destroying’ Britain’s criminal justice system
Delays following the privatisation of court services are costing the taxpayer tens of millions of pounds, the chairman of the Criminal Bar Association has warned.
Britain’s criminal justice system is being destroyed by Government cuts and changes to the way courts are run, said Michael Turner QC, who represents 3,600 lawyers as the chairman of the Criminal Bar Association (CBA).
Turner claims taxpayers’ money is being squandered, injustices covered up and the judiciary ‘muzzled’ by ministers obsessed with secrecy.
He said: “If you put a contract in place with a private supplier you’ve got to monitor its effectiveness. Otherwise you don’t know that it’s doing what it says it’s doing, which is saving the taxpayer money.”
He told Exaro: “It costs a £110 a minute to run a courtroom with a jury. Every minute of delay is costing someone further down the line. Bench delays are so endemic in our court system now.
“The taxpayer is picking up the tab on a bill that the taxpayer never sees, because GEOAmey, the company charged with bringing prisoners to court, can’t deliver; because Applied Language Solutions supply translators who can’t speak the language that they’re required to.”
[…] Three weeks ago, Exaro revealed that MPs had suggested that that the MoJ was in “contempt”, such was the extent to which it had hampered an investigation into shortcomings of translation services for courts.
Turner is also concerned about growing secrecy in the judicial system: “Look at the other pieces of legislation that the government is seeking to introduce, secrecy in the courtroom, which is designed to protect the government from the revelation that they’ve been involved in extraordinary rendition and torture.”
He believes the government should not be allowed to interfere in courts on security grounds, as they can already be closed at the judge’s discretion: “There are all sorts of protections for these witnesses [from the secret service] that are absolutely satisfactory.
“In five years’ time, you will not have a justice system that will allow people to expose the dreadful lies that were told in the Hillsborough case, because they won’t be there, the lawyers will have gone.” […]