10 May 2013
Du interpreter row: System “out of control” says MP Ellis
Northampton North MP Michael Ellis said today’s failings over an interpreter for quadruple murder suspect Anxiang Du showed the service was “out of control”.
Mr Ellis, who is also a barrister, was speaking after Du appeared at Nottingham Crown Court, but was unable to enter pleas as no Mandarin interpreter turned up to the hearing.
Du, aged 54, is accused of murdering Jifeng “Jeff” Ding, his wife Ge “Helen” Chui and their two daughters, Alice, aged 12, and Xing, aged 18, in Wootton in May 2011.
The high court judge, Mr Justice Julian Flaux, hit out at the outsourcing company providing the interpreters, Capita, labelling them “an absolute disgrace”.
He said the firm indicated it was not worth sending one as they “would not make enough money” from the hearing.
Mr Ellis said: “In my view this is an outrage and a disgrace. That will have cost the public purse very large sums for the aborted hearing.
“It is something I am prepared to raise with the Secretary of State for Justice, Chris Grayling. I think he will want to hear about it.
“The court interpreting system is out of control. The representations from solicitors about the cost of the interpreting service, coupled with this, very strongly outlines the need for urgent reform.
“There should be an inquiry about this.”
A Capita spokesman said: “After the original interpreter booked to attend the hearing was unable to attend, Capita worked to secure a replacement.
“The replacement interpreter could not attend until 2.30pm and we communicated this, in good time, to the court.
“Capita at no time refused to arrange an interpreter to attend Nottingham Crown Court on cost or any other grounds.”
A recent report on Capita highlighted how it missed its targets in its first year of running the privatised court interpreting service.
The firm aims to meet 98 per cent of interpreter requests, but its overall success rate in the first year was 90 per cent.
Figures released by the Ministry of Justice for the period also showed there have been 6,417 complaints and more than 600 court trials scrapped due to a lack of interpreters.