21 May 2013
Government won’t investigate Du interpreter fiasco
The Government has said it will not investigate a firm which failed to send a Mandarin interpreter for a court appearance of murder suspect, Anxiang Du.
Capita, the firm contracted by the Ministry of Justice to provide foreign interpreters in courts, was branded a “disgrace” by a High Court Judge last week after Du’s latest court appearance had to be adjourned.
Du, aged 54, was due to enter pleas for charges of murdering Jifeng Ding, his wife Helen, and their two children Xing, aged 18, and Alice, aged 12.
During the plea and case management hearing at Nottingham Crown Court, at which Anxiang Du was present, the High Court Judge explained he had asked for an interpreter to be booked.
However, he said the firm indicated it was not worth sending one as they “would not make enough money” from the hearing.
A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: “We have worked with Capita to make dramatic improvements in the interpreter service, saving taxpayers £15 million last year. These kinds of issues are now rare.”
The court heard the firm had been ordered to send an interpreter, but when the hearing started at 2pm there was no interpreter present and therefore no pleas were entered.
The Mandarin interpreter did eventually arrive at about 2.30pm, but the hearing had already finished and she left the court precincts soon afterwards.
Mr Justice Flaux said: “To say that the presiding judge of the court is annoyed about this is an understatement.”
Instead a fresh plea and management hearing is to be held at Northampton Crown Court in July.
Northampton North MP, Michael Ellis, himself a barrister, labelled the debacle as an “outrage and a disgrace”.
However, a Capita spokesman denied the firm had refused to send an interpreter.
He 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.”