29 July 2014
Judge tries to source interpreter from CHINESE TAKEAWAYS as private company fails to provide one
In the latest farce to hit the privatised courts, outsourcing giant Capita did not provide a Mandarin speaker for the case against Sun Liu in Cardiff
A fuming judge asked a lawyer to trawl Chinese takeaways for a stand-in interpreter as the Government’s botched courts privatisation hit a new low.
Judge Burr had already adjourned the case against Sun Liu at Cardiff Crown Court once, as no Mandarin interpreter was provided by outsourcing giant Capita.
After another no-show the next day Judge Burr asked Liu’s lawyer to search local restaurants for help. The barrister refused and the case was adjourned a second time.
Shadow Justice Minister Andy Slaughter raged: “This is the latest example of how the criminal justice system under David Cameron has descended into a complete farce.”
Liu was in court on July 16 after allegedly failing to attend court in relation to offences of importing banned goods. She denies all charges.
The case finally got underway today, almost two weeks late.
It is just one of thousands of cases each year which have been delayed or abandoned since the Government privatised the court interpreter service in 2012.
Mr Slaughter said: “The interpreters’ contract shambles has been widely documented - but even by this Government’s standards this is embarrassing.”
Official figures show almost 2,500 court cases were disrupted in the first three months of this year alone. The number of interpreters turning up late has also soared by 50 per cent over the last 12 months.
Capita earns £18million-a-year from the contract but has never met its target of providing interpreters in 98 per cent of cases.
The service was revealed to be in “total chaos” by the Commons public accounts committee in December 2012.
In May, the country’s most senior family court judge said the situation was “unacceptable”.
Sir James Munby, head of the Family Division, was furious that two Slovak interpreters booked for an adoption hearing on 7 May failed to turn up.
Mr Slaughter said tonight: “It is depressing that over two years after Capita took over court interpreting and translating services, they’ve still not got the basics right.”
Capita claimed it had “no record of unfulfilled bookings” at Cardiff Crown Court for the specific case in July.
The Government insisted the botched privatisation has saved millions of pounds.
Tory Courts Minister Shailesh Vara said: “As a result of the contract, we have spent £27million less in the first two years it has been running, and it continues to reduce the burden on taxpayers.
“We will continue to drive further improvement in performance to deliver value for money for the taxpayer.”