6 January 2017
FARCICAL! Afghan killer who came to UK and beat police with a hammer has sentencing delayed... because translator went to wrong town
An Afghan murderer who attacked two police officers with a hammer after arriving in Britain could not be punished yesterday – because his interpreter went to the wrong court.
Around £10,000 of taxpayers’ money was wasted on a judge, barristers, three police officers and court clerks for the sentencing of Jamshid Piruz.
An interpreter who could speak his Dari language was booked for the hearing because the 34-year-old, who beheaded a Dutch woman in 2007, has such poor English.
But the language expert went to a court in a different town at the wrong time and went home without telling anyone.
Judge Jeremy Gold QC demanded a ‘full written explanation’ from the person responsible for informing the court of the error. Piruz will now be sentenced at Hove Crown Court next Friday.
The case exposes the Ministry of Justice’s shambolic privatisation of legal translation services. MPs and spending watchdogs say a catastrophic shortage of interpreters has made courts rely on Google Translate, a basic and time-consuming online translation service.
More than 2,600 court cases have been adjourned in the past five years because of failures in the interpreting service.
‘This illustrates perfectly what a farce the criminal justice system is in the UK and how inefficient the courts are,’ said Philip Davies, a Tory MP on the Commons justice committee.
‘Taxpayers’ money is being completely squandered on nonsense like this. You really couldn’t make it up. How hard can it be to make sure an interpreter turns up at the right court at the right time?’
Lord Marks, the Liberal Democrat justice spokesman, said: ‘It is utterly farcical that cases have to be rescheduled because the interpreter does not turn up.
‘How can they not know what day they are needed? I understand mistakes happen but this is just not on. Many interpreters are dedicated professionals and a few just let everyone down.’
[…] About 10,000 foreign nationals are in UK prisons, around 11 per cent of the total prison population, with many needing interpreters at their numerous court hearings and appeals.
Courts across England used to rely on local interpreters but in January 2012 ministers handed a monopoly to Capita Translation and Interpreting.
It prompted a wave of criticism from the National Register of Public Service Interpreters, which previously provided courts with language experts.
MPs were told the company had failed to send interpreters to up to a fifth of trials, sent people speaking the wrong language, or used incompetent employees.
In October, the heavily-criticised £168 million contract was handed to Leeds-based translation service The Big Word.
A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: ‘We introduced a new system for booking interpreters in 2012, as the previous system was costly and inefficient.
‘Since this change complaints remain low and so far we have saved £48 million for the taxpayer.’