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Thursday, 27 February 2014

Northern Ireland: Sex offender's appeal over conduct of court interpreter fails

27 February 2014 by Chris Kilpatrick

Sex offender's appeal over conduct of court interpreter fails
A sex offender attempted to have his conviction for attacking a woman quashed after claiming an interpreter – who was not properly qualified – told the victim what to say in court.
The Court of Appeal this week dismissed the appeal by Noel Jesus Foronda against his conviction for the offence of sexual assault.
Foronda was found guilty by a jury last May and sentenced to two years, one of which he was ordered to spend in prison.
He appealed the conviction, citing concerns over the conduct of the Filipino interpreter employed for the case by the Public Prosecution Service (PPS).
The Court of Appeal heard that during the Crown Court trial the interpreter appointed on behalf of Foronda informed the judge that the PPS interpreter had been prompting the victim.
Quizzed by Foronda's lawyer, the interpreter confirmed she was not registered with the National Register of Public Service Interpreters, as required for a Crown Court trial. She had been employed through the Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities.
The interpreter also confirmed accepting a lift from the woman's family from the court doors to the main gate.
The trial judge said he was not satisfied that the PPS interpreter was feeding the witness answers and that it would not be in the interests of justice to discharge the jury, as requested.
He directed, however, that the PPS interpreter should not continue to interpret on behalf of the woman because of her lack of appropriate qualifications.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

One law for private? UK courts ignoring crime in privatised services

23 February 2014 by Tom Pride

One law for private? UK courts ignoring crime in privatised services
Three years ago, an unqualified court interpreter was jailed for working without qualifications and for not being registered with the profession’s professional body the National Register of Public Service Interpreters (NRPSI):
Since then the coalition government has outsourced the court interpreting services – in what has been described as a disastrous privatisation.

Monday, 10 February 2014

PQ - 10 February 2014


10 February 2014
Courts: Translation Services

Sadiq Khan (Shadow Lord Chancellor and Shadow Secretary of State for Justice; Tooting, Labour) 
To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many court cases were delayed as a result of a lack of an interpreter or translator in each month since the court interpreter contract started.

Shailesh Vara (The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice; North West Cambridgeshire, Conservative)
The contract with Capita-TI was introduced in criminal courts in the north-west in December 2011 and was implemented across the rest of Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service on 30 January 2012. Figures are not available for the number of court cases delayed a result of problems with interpreters. The Ministry of Justice does, however, publish statistics on the number of criminal trials that were ineffective and the reasons for that. These are available at:
We have seen dramatic improvements over the life of the contract so far, record numbers of bookings are now being made and fulfilment rates are regularly achieving 95%. Complaint levels are very low and we continue to drive further improvement. The interpreting contract was introduced to tackle the inefficiencies and inconsistencies in the previous system and it has already saved taxpayers £15 million in its first year.

Northern Ireland: £30,000: cost of rape trial that was abandoned after one day

10 February 2014

£30,000: cost of rape trial that was abandoned after one day
A rape trial which had to be aborted amid concerns an interpreter was giving inaccurate and unreliable translations has left the taxpayer with a £30,000 bill.
The Department of Justice has launched an inquiry into how the unregistered interpreter was employed at Craigavon Crown Court last month.
The case – which involved two Lithuanian men – was abandoned after the judge said it was irreparably compromised.
It has now emerged that the aborted trial – which lasted just a day – will cost at least £30,000.
The estimated cost does not include the defendants' legal aid.
The figure was disclosed in response to an Assembly question from the DUP's Lord Morrow.
The MLA said he was appalled by the case, and believes the true cost will be much higher. "How the case got to the Crown Court stage with inept interpretational services is beyond me," he said. The court was trying the case of Lithuanian men Darius Porcikas (24) and Vytautas Mikulinas (23).
Porcikas, from Upper Edward Street in Newry, faced 14 charges, including five counts of rape, two of sexual assault, two of false imprisonment, causing actual bodily harm and assault, all in relation to a female alleged victim.
He also faced two further charges of causing grievous bodily harm with intent and actual bodily harm in relation to her ex-partner. Mikulinas, from Birch Hill Park in Portadown, faced a charge of causing actual bodily harm to the woman's ex-partner.
Both men deny the charges.
But after the opening day of the trial, prosecuting QC Richard Weir said other interpreters had raised concerns about the standard of translation of the Lithuanian alleged victim's evidence.
The judge abandoned the trial, saying it had been "irreparably compromised". A new trial is expected to open next month.
Lord Morrow said: "Only for the astuteness of a number of other interpreters involved in the case who realised the translations were inaccurate, the matter could have had extremely serious consequences, far and above the cost implications. That said, the costs – which it must be stressed are estimated and may prove conservative – are very high."
In a separate answer, Mr Ford confirmed an investigation into the matter was under way.
"An investigation into the matter has been commenced by the DoJ contract manager," he said. "The investigation is being conducted under the terms of the contract with the current service provider, and is ongoing."
A PPS spokesperson said: "The PPS, Northern Ireland Court Service and PSNI have a joint contract with the Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities (NICEM) for the supply of interpreter services. This contract is managed by the DoJ.
"NICEM source and provide interpreters at the request of PPS for prosecution witnesses. The circumstances around this trial are the subject of an ongoing enquiry and a re-trial of the case itself and we will be unable to comment further until that enquiry is completed and until the case itself is concluded before the courts."