Monday, 11 February 2013

Interpreters contract: inept and dangerous 
11 February 2013 by Malcolm Fowler

Interpreters contract: inept and dangerous 
I write with regard to the court interpreter contract. Catherine Baksi is quite right still to be pursuing this particularly inept – and dangerous – example of outsourcing. Inept, since the terms of this monopolistic contract are holding the criminal justice system and we service providers to ransom.
Dangerous, because all thinking and principled practitioners in this field are bracing themselves for the next swathe of miscarriage of justice cases, arising from inadequate interpreting services. Rather than ‘whether’, it is a question of ‘when’.
It says it all, really, when the Ministry of Justice is striving to gag people such as Peter Beeke, chair of the Peterborough Magistrates’ Court, to prevent him from ‘telling it as it is’ from a dossier which he has compiled of serial and persistent shortcomings. 
Fortunately for those of us who still care, court service personnel and the judiciary continue – as they should – to share their concerns with us and to encourage us to complain. 
Mr Beeke is far from being the only judicial figure who has thereby been able to generate a disturbing dossier of defaults. There are still any number of us who remember all too vividly the shocking case of Iqbal Begum (93 Cr App R 96 CA). Have we learnt anything when our collective memories seem to be so short?
Malcolm Fowler, solicitor and higher court advocate, Dennings, Tipton

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