Bridgnorth Magistrate has resigned sighting inequality for the poor in the justice system. Here is his letter published in the i newspaper on the subject.
I have today given my resignation as a magistrate as I can no longer abide by the judicial oath “will do right to all manner of people after the laws and usages of this realm, without fear or favour, affection or ill will”. At my last sitting, I sat on two cases. One involved a theft of £5.86 and resulted in a financial penalty of £385 for an unemployed young mart. The second was an unemployed young man who put excessive toilet roll down a police cell toilet and ended up with a total financial penalty of £410. The ridiculous sums are down to the crazy new court charges.
After more than 21 years as magistrate, I am very afraid that these new court charges are going to destroy ordinary people’s conception of a fair British judicial system. Those facing any kind of court charge will now weigh up very carefully what a court appearance could cost them, irrespective of whether they believe they actually committed the alleged offence. Alleged offenders in Shropshire now travel vast distances regardless of their means or ability to get to court.
The British judicial system was based on the bedrock that justice must not only be done but be seen to be done. It should not be the case that justice should be done only to those who are rich enough to afford it.